A deficiency of strong leaders

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently paid an official visit to Pakistan accompanied »»

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently paid an official visit to Pakistan accompanied by a number of columnists. Sharing their observations and notes they took during the visit, the columnists pointed to various issues in their articles. According to them, Erdoğan visited the Pakistani parliament as a guest, and opposition leader Nisar Ali Khan’s following statements marked Erdoğan’s visit to parliament: “If you were not here, we wouldn’t be sitting here with the ruling party [members] side by side. We forgot our political differences at the sight of you.”

The Zaman daily’s Mustafa Ünal shares his observation about the diversity in that parliament. “It was also interesting to see that almost half of the parliament members were women, some of whom were headscarved, and some were not. Even the parliament speaker is a woman, the first female parliament speaker in the Muslim world.”

However, Abdülkadir Selvi from the Yeni Şafak daily touches on some common points in both countries’ histories. “Pakistan had Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a prominent political figure who served his country, making great reforms. And we had Adnan Menderes, Turkey’s first democratically elected leader to whom Turkey owes a lot. Pakistan executed Bhutto, and we executed Menderes. Pakistan then had Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a former ruler of Pakistan who enforced martial law. And we had Kenan Evren, who also became prime minister by leading a military coup. Now, hold on to your hats! Today, we are trying Evren, and Pakistan has just recently started a discussion on bringing coup perpetrators to court. They previously staged coups by taking Turkey as an example; and now they are taking Turkey as an example for trying coup actors. Turkey previously exported coups, whereas now it is acting as a model for other countries with regard to democracy,” Selvi says and adds that Pakistan apparently wants Turkey to be at the wheel while heading to true democracy.

Also focusing on the common features of the two countries, Sabah’s Okan Müderrisoğlu says both are Muslim countries that are victims of America’s Greater Middle East Project and that both have done a bad job in their democratic history. But the last 10 years have revealed an obvious difference between the two countries, he says. That is the concept of leadership. Both countries have staunch opposition groups in their politics and diverse political views in their parliaments. But both are united by the charisma of one leader: Erdoğan. Khan’s statements about Erdoğan once again point to a deficiency of strong leaders in Muslim countries. And for now, we have only Erdoğan.