Erdoğan likens Kashmir to battle for Turkey’s independence

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said the disputed Kashmir territory was of similar importance to Turkey as its own war of independence, during his speech in the Pakistani parliament.

“It was Çanakkale yesterday, and it is Kashmir today. There is no difference,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdoğan as saying, in reference to the battle for Gallipoli in north western Turkey between Turkey and Allied Powers in 1915 and 1916.

The Indian-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir has led to several conflicts since the countries’ partition in 1947.

Turkey has vigorously backed Pakistan’s claim over Jammu and Kashmir, for which India passed an act to reconstitute under direct Indian rule last year.

“The Kashmir problem can be solved not by conflict or oppression, but on the basis of justice and equity,” Erdoğan said in his speech, adding that India’s unilateral steps had further complicated the situation.

“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral and inalienable part of India,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in response to Erdoğan. 

“We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India’s internal affairs,” Kumar was quoted by India’s NDTV as saying

Kumar called on Erdoğan to “develop a proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region.”

Turkey and Pakistan also have close defence ties, including joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean, a joint construction project for a fleet tanker and Turkey supplying Pakistan with various military aircrafts and ships.

During Erdoğan’s two-day visit this week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Erdoğan signed 13 documents of cooperation to further improve trade, tourism, defence and infrastructure development relations.