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Pakistan’s seek for id: Why Imran Khan is selling a Turkish TV serial

Pradeep Singh Gautam

What’s Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan watching lately? Reply is Turkish TV sequence ‘Resurrection: Ertugrul’ in English or Ghazi Ertugrul in Urdu. Not solely he himself is binging on it, he’s additionally actively selling it on social media and has requested PTV to run it as effectively. Following his lead a lot of his ministers and supporters are busy making a buzz round this character of Ertugrul and the eponymous TV sequence. Khan is asking his countrymen to get inspiration from this character and study Pakistani id, tradition and custom from him.

You might watch this short speech by Khan to get a first-hand concept.

It begets a query: who’s Ertugrul and why is he being ‘resurrected’? Why rapidly Khan is asking his countrymen to establish with this Turk who was unknown to most Pakistanis someday again? To try a solution, let’s return practically a 100 years. Throughout the First World Battle (1914-1919), Turkey underneath Ottoman Empire, ostensibly to guard its imperialist pursuits, fought alongside Germany and towards the Allied Powers like Britain and Russia. Ottoman Empire misplaced the struggle and this led to the emergence of contemporary Turkey as we all know it right this moment.

Publish-war Turks selected a military basic as their new chief in Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Kemal Ataturk first eliminated Caliph Abdul Mejid-II from energy after which lastly abolished the Osmanian Caliphate. Caliph Abdul Mejid-II was exiled and pensioned off to Europe. The strongest opposition towards this transfer got here from the then undivided India. India noticed the launch of Khilafat Motion in 1919 to guard the Osmanian Caliphate  (‘Khilafa’ in urdu). Nizam of Hyderabad even began sending cash to the deposed Caliph. Fed up with this rising opposition, the British and Kemal Ataturk lastly abolished the establishment of a caliphate on March 3, 1924.

For Sunni Muslims, this abolition closed the custom of caliphs which began after the dying of Prophet Muhammad, when Abu-Bakr Siddique turned the primary caliph in 632 AD. Because the Osmanian Caliphate was abolished, this led to dissipation of Khilafat motion in India as effectively. However nonetheless, to acknowledge this love affair, Nizam of Hyderabad despatched a wedding proposal of his son Prince Azam Jah to Princess Durru Shehvar, daughter of the deposed caliph. This marriage proposal was carried by none apart from Allama Iqbal, who can be thought-about by Pakistan because the progenitor of their nationwide ideology. The wedding was concluded in 1932 in Good, France and the Turkish Princess got here to Hyderabad as Nizam’s daughter-in-law. This explains the historic strand in Indian subcontinent, now largely in Pakistan, which romanticises the Turks.

Turkey map

Supply: timesofisrael.com

How does Ertugrul slot in all this? Ertugrul is a semi-historical determine, a Turk of the Kayi tribe who lived within the 13th century. He’s stated to have fought towards Christians of Byzantine and different non-believers and overcame enormous odds. He’s the daddy of Osman and his dynasty led to the institution of the Caliphate of Osmania and Ottoman Empire. The TV sequence on his life turns into fascinating when seen within the background that shortly it will likely be 100 years for the reason that caliphate was abolished. There’s a revivalist sentiment, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, who harks again on the ‘golden previous’. To attract a parallel, Turkey of right this moment faces related odds as confronted by Ertugrul within the 13th century. In that sense the spirit of Ertugrul must be resurrected to do what must be executed. Then, to wit, the politics of Erdogan seems to mission himself within the spirit of Ertugrul. Then because the heir of the legacy of Osmania, Erdogan finds it solely appropriate to assist Pakistani place on Kashmir.

Now, let’s come again to Pakistan. Whereas exhorting his fellow countrymen to observe and comply with the instance of Ertugrul, Khan says that Pakistanis have to be privy to ‘their’ superb Islamic previous. He additionally berates ‘trash’ coming from Hollywood and Bollywood and finds this ‘fahashi’ (obscenity/vulgarity)  accountable for lots of ills plaguing his nation. He goes on to assert that this vulgarity is accountable for rising the speed of divorce even within the UK! He then says that going again to Islamic roots is the treatment of such evils. Query is: will his quest pivoting on the id of Ertugrul succeed within the 21st century?

Let’s contemplate the seemingly issues on this message. First is probably the most direct and apparent one. The non-public character of Khan doesn’t enthuse a lot confidence whereas speaking concerning the price of divorce or what he calls ‘fahashi’. He tries to unravel this contradiction by merely counting on extreme doses of private religiosity however this world based mostly on digital knowledge shouldn’t be so forgiving. The picture under is a case on level.


What ought to we are saying to this? Let’s simply say that PM Khan doesn’t consider a lot in Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum, “My Life is My Message”.

Secondly whereas drawing on Ertugrul and Turkish id Imran Khan and Pakistanis are misreading the vast majority of Turkish sensibilities as effectively. The state of affairs is so weird that Pakistanis are giving strategies on social media to Engin Altan Duzyatan (the actor who performs the character of Ertugrul within the TV sequence) that he mustn’t maintain a canine as a pet as canines are thought-about unclean in Islam. Pakistanis are additionally asking Esra Bilgic, the feminine lead, to cowl herself ‘correctly’ according to Islamic custom.

Turkish 2starTurkish actor dogLevel is Turkish society nonetheless largely stays liberal and secular as in comparison with Pakistani society. The issue is Pakistanis try to return and freeze the world within the 13th century however that world doesn’t exist right this moment. In any case Osmanian Caliphate and Ertugrul will not be the one Turkish love curiosity of Pakistanis. Common Pervez Musharraf claimed to be Kemal Ataturk of Pakistan. As a Common who had executed a coup and Kargil misadventure, he was busy promoting a extra modernist and secular picture.  Almost 20 years since then Imran Khan has regressed again.

And at last, chilly calculations of Pakistani nationwide curiosity additionally seem like misaligned. For instance, the map reveals that a lot of current Saudi Arabia, together with Mecca and Medina, had been a part of Ottoman Empire in 1914. In reality the state of Saudi Arabia was fashioned as a consequence of revolt towards Ottoman rule. So, the extra President Erdogan tries to resurrect the spirit of Ertugrul and harks to the golden age, the extra insecure nations like Saudi Arabia develop into. And Saudi Arabia stays the most important benefactor of the Pakistani regime. Saudi Arabia offers money and Turkey offers some statements on Kashmir. Depart Imran Khan apart, I suppose Generals in Rawalpindi GHQ are clever sufficient to do that primary math.

The ideology of Pakistan and its quest for id has a colourful and fascinating previous. It begins with Muhammad Bin Qasim, an Arab invader, who attacked and got here to Sindh in 712 AD. Then it named its missiles Ghauri, Ghaznavi and Abdali. None of them are of native Pakistani inventory. Since Afghan Jihad of the 1980s it has began an energetic role-play of changing into Arab. In between it may develop into a Turk; Kemal Ataturk or Ertugrul Ghazi, is a matter of comfort or will be the taste of the season. So Pakistan has no dearth of selection in terms of identities. Relying upon the necessity, Pakistan can formally declare Arab, Afghan, Persian or Turkish ancestry. Fairly evidently, led by PM Khan’s ambition of getting “Islamic Voices” heard on the earth, they’ve opted for Turkish lineage.  Like earlier makes an attempt, it smacks of pathological lack of shallowness and an train at self-negation. The reality stays quite simple however it’s thought-about blasphemous in Pakistan. The reality is Pakistan is a South Asian nation.

The writer is an IRS officer. He holds a grasp’s in public coverage from the College of Manchester. The views are private.

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