|Messages from Turkey
Daily: Daily Times
On July 15, a botched attempt to stage a military coup in Turkey to oust the elected
government of President Tayyip Erdogan dejected and disgruntled the touts of a military
coup in Pakistan. Some Pakistanis claim that they watched on TV a Sheikh Rasheed of
Turkish version sitting on a tank heading for parliament in Ankara. The fate of the tank is
known; however, the fate of the rider is not yet known. The Move on Pakistan must be ruing
the day it invested millions of rupees in making and displaying flexi posters on main roads in
selected cities inviting the military blatantly to take over Pakistan.
What happened in Turkey was seen with interest in Pakistan because of the shared thread
of military coups in both the countries. Turkey has a history replete with four martial laws
--1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997. Interestingly, a military coup has failed in Turkey, but four
justifications to the miscarriage are given in Pakistan to attenuate the intensity of
embarrassment the failure has brought along for the touts of a military coup.
The first justification is that the coup was planned and staged by only a section of the
Turkish military. However, this is mostly the case. The modern day coups are not planned in
a Corps Commander meeting, but in a close association or a clique. Moreover, coups are
executed by a section of the military followed by the rest of the military. For instance, in
Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf and three of his colleagues planned the military coup
in 1999, primarily under the fear that a commission could be set on waging the Kargil war
without the approval of the sitting government.
Second, the Turkish coup was disorganised, and that was why it failed. However,
meticulous organisation was visible when the coup makers met their initial targets of seizing
key government buildings in Ankara and Istanbul, and capturing the Turkish chief of army
staff. It was the unexpected resistance offered by people in the streets that turned the coup
turtle. If the coup had not been resisted, the coup would have not only been representative
of the whole army but it would also have been declared well-organised.
Third, only a small number of officers and soldiers were involved. However, the number of
arrested soldiers is more than two thousand. Similarly, about 30 colonels and six generals
have been arrested.
Fourth, only about 10 to 20 thousand people took to the streets, while the rest of Turkey
stayed at home. However, the coup makers surrendered only when they were overwhelmed
by the number of people. Perhaps, the section of the military that staged the coup must
have been told that the Turk would distribute sweets if the military took over the
government. Now the same section must be thinking that they were hoodwinked by the
touts who have now suddenly turned into democrats.
This might be the last attempt in Turkey where the chapter of military coups appears to be
closed for good. However, related to Pakistan, at least nine messages have come from
The first message is that it is instinctive of the military to begrudge democracy.
Notwithstanding President Erdogan’s elected and popular government — the status that
was known to coup-makers — the military, even if it was just one of its sections, tried its
best to overthrow the government.
Second, the military carves ruses to justify its illegal and unconstitutional actions as per
given need to befool people, and the same justifications are later violated. Through the
Peace at Home Council, a section of the Turkish military staged the coup for “reinstating
constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security,”
and then during the coup process it violated the same.
Third, the whole military is not required to get activated to stage a coup. Instead, modern
military coups are planned, and executed by a section of the military deployed in or near
Fourth, unarmed civilians can halt the advance of the military and can make it refrain from
toppling the elected government. It is not the gun that is more powerful; it is the will of the
people that reigns supreme.
Fifth, the age of staging military coups through occupying the state TV station to block
communication between the government and people is over. In the presence of alternative
means of communication, President Erdogan addressed the Turkish audience via a video
calling service app on the smart phone, and asked them to take to the streets to defy any
hint of the martial law. The link established between a political leader and people is a key to
sabotaging a coup.
Sixth, it is not that the status quo is always detested, and people necessarily yearn for a
change delineated by coup-makers. Instead, it is that people may opt for resisting the
change adversely affecting their lives. More than 200 Turkish people lost their lives in
Ankara and Istanbul to protect the status quo and avoid the change.
Seventh, it is the yearning of people for democracy that matters. What political leadership
has done for people is one thing, and what association people have forged with democracy
expressed through an elected government is another thing. The proximity of Turkey to
Europe, and the aspirations of the Turk to join the European Union left a great impact on
them to fight for democracy.
Eighth, a failed military coup is forsaken by the counterparts of military in society. In Turkey,
the Peace at Home Council was not working in isolation, and it was in touch with society to
rally like-minded people. When the anti-coup people took to the streets, the pro-coup
people could not find courage to neutralise them. The touts of the military coup went in
hiding, or perhaps quickly donned the attire of democratic people.
Ninth, the “third empire” of every country has its own limitations. Unfortunately, the Turkish
third empire has been humiliated in the streets of Ankara and Istanbul.
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