Turkey & Pakistan flags
Turkey and Malaysia have just provided the badly needed life-line to Pakistan at the Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and thwarted the chance of Pakistan sliding from the grey list to the black list despite Pakistan’s failure to end terror financing and money laundering by terrorists. Of course, the greatest support to Pakistan came from China which presided over the FATF meeting. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conveying his desire to acquire nuclear capabilities/warheads, speculation is ripe of Turkey being the final cog in the infamous ‘nuclear proliferation nexus’ led by A Q Khan, besides Iran, Libya and North Korea. In the 1980s, Turkey facilitated importing materials from Europe and redirecting American centrifuges to Pakistan in the latter’s quest for nuclear weapons. The burgeoning relations between the two countries are led more by their nuclear connection, and less by religious affinity. .
Turkey and to some extent Malaysia were till recently considered to be ‘moderate’ Islamic nations. Pakistan’s claim to that tag lasted till Gen Zia-ul-Haq took over the country in the 1980s after a coup and set the ball of rapid Islamisation of the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim-majority country rolling. Radicalization has spread fast in Pakistan with considerable backing of the anti-India ‘establishment’—both the civilian government and the powerful army.
When Tayyip Erdogan came to power in Turkey, among the first things he did was to repudiate the country’s secular character, which, interestingly, was sustained with the help of the army for decades.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society where Muslims constitute over 60 per cent of the population. Racial tensions among the majority Muslims and ethnic Chinese and Indians have existed long but they have become more prominent in the last few years. The Chinese and the largely Hindu Indian community are discriminated against. Many Hindus have complained of forcible conversion and government’s inaction. Both, the previous Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and the present one, Mahathir bin Mohammed, are advocates of Islamisation.
Details of the proposed English language Islamic channel are not known but it is quite likely that its headquarters will be in Pakistan which will ensure that it serves the Pakistani agenda well. In the event of Pakistan dominating the administration of the new channel, it will also become an unofficial propaganda arm of the government which is needed to counter the sometimes critical voices heard over the private media channels. Turkey may not appear to be very suitable for locating the HQ of the proposed channel because Turkey has paucity of English-speaking journalists. Malaysia can pip Pakistan’s claim only by its money power which is decidedly better than Pakistan’s.