Mar 02 2018

Turkey slowly becoming Pakistan - Bloomberg columnist

Turkey is spiralling down the path to becoming the next Pakistan, said Eli Lake in a commentary for Bloomberg View.

Quoting former Pakistani ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, he said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approach is similar to that of Former Pakistan President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's, and Turkey is slowly beginning to resemble Pakistan. 

"Erdogan has taken the Pakistani formula of mixing hard-line nationalism with religiosity," said Lake, the former national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and Newsweek. "Zia imposed Islamic laws by decree, amended the constitution, marginalised secular scholars and leaders, and created institutions for Islamization that have outlasted him. Erdogan is trying to do the same in Turkey."

Zia-ul-Haq was a former general who imposed martial law in Pakistan in 1977. He served as president from 1978 until his death in 1988, the longest term of any Pakistani head of state.

Turkey is not there yet, according to Lake. 

"There is still a majority of Turks who want to eventually join the European Union. The Turkish economy is stronger than Pakistan's, and its banks are more trusted. And unlike in Pakistan, the driving force to further Islamize society has come from Erdogan, an elected leader, not the military."

Lake criticised the U.S. government and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for not showing tough love to Ankara to stop Turkey's slide, and suggests drawing some boundaries for Erdogan.

"A good starting point would be to demand Erdogan stop threatening U.S. soldiers," Lake said.