And Imran Khan’s Ankara visit
Despite being somewhat belated Imran Khan’s Ankara visit was commendable. Like China, Turkey is one of Pakistan’s closest and oldest allies. This explains why every government has worked hard to take Pak-Turkey relations to a new height. Turkey has all along supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. It was the first country to come to the rescue after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Ankara initiated Pak-Afghan-Turkey summit way back in 2007 on account of its clout among masses in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Turkey has been helping in the modernization of Pakistan army, airforce and navy. One will evaluate the PTI government’s contribution to relations with Turkey in this formidable background.
Living through the 2018 Turkish currency and debt crisis, with Turkish lira plunging in value, high inflation, rising borrowing costs, and correspondingly rising loan defaults Turkey may not be in a position to help Pakistan financially. This must not lead the PTI to underrate the Pak-Turkish friendship. Turkey is still willing to help revive Pak-Afghan-Turkey summit. The PTI government has to realize that an over-reliance on Saudi Arabia and UAE would not be favoured by Pakistan’s time-tested ally.
In his foreign tours Imran Khan tended to act like a child in a toy shop. When in China he sought to adopt the Chinese model of alleviation of poverty. After meeting Mahatir Mohmad, Imran Khan said he wanted to replicate the Malaysian model of good governance in Pakistan. While in Ankara, he wanted to clone the Turkish health care system. This shows lack of a clear vision.
It is in bad taste to malign Pakistan’s past leaders when visiting foreign countries. Khan needs to realise that chanceries all over the world regularly update their governments about the policies and peculiarities of those in power as well as those who are likely to replace them in the countries where they located. Ankara was no place to condemn Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s ‘socialist’ policies or the mindset of Pakistan’s bureaucracy. What was needed was to persuade them of efficacy of improvements he thinks he has implemented to facilitate the investors. Whether Imran Khan succeeded in this will become clear from the amount of investments coming from Turkey.