There is unusual excitement in the Kashmiri separatist camp over the just-declared presidential election results in faraway Turkey.
Senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq congratulated Ankara’s incumbent head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning the Eurasian country’s presidential polls held on Sunday.
The 64-year-old Turkish leader was re-elected in the tightly-contested presidential polls, extending his 15-year grip on power as the opposition complained bitterly about the conduct of the vote count.
“Congratulation to Turkey’s President @RT_Erdogan, an ardent supporter of Kashmiri right to self-determination on winning the presidential elections. Our prayers and best wishes are with the people of Turkey,” tweeted the chairman of the Awami Action Committee that forms a key faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference which has historically been pro-Pakistan.
Congratulations to Turkey’s President @RT_Erdogan, an ardent supporter of Kashmiris right to self-determination on winning the Presidential elections. Our prayers and best wishes are with the people of Turkey.— Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (@MirwaizKashmir) June 24, 2018
Mirwaiz told Outlook in Srinagar that Turkey is the only country after Pakistan that has “unequivocally supported Kashmir and our right to self-determination”. Added the 45-year-old militant leader: “It is also the most vocal member of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) contact group on Kashmir.”
The OIC contact group on J&K was formed in 1994 (a year after the Hurriyat was born) to coordinate the 57-nation organisation’s policy on the Kashmir issue. The group regularly meets to express solidarity with Kashmiris. “Be it Palestine or Kashmir,” said Mirwaiz, “Turkey under Erdogan has raised a voice in support of suppressed people.”
As the vote in Turkey has also ushered an executive presidency system, giving the elected leader sweeping new powers, many supporters of the “Kashmir cause” are criticising Kashmiris for their “Erdogan obsession”.
Dibyesh Anand, Professor of International Relations at the University of Westminster, took to social media, saying, “When it comes to the election results in NATO member state of Turkey, most Kurdish and Turkish friends on my friend list are expressing anxieties about the authoritarian outcomes/disquiet about the electoral malpractices/relief at HDP remaining in the parliament despite the best efforts of AKP to imprison its politicians.”
“On the other hand, disturbingly high number of friends from Kashmir and quite a few from India are celebrating Erdogan’s victory as if he will liberate them next and/or he is the knight in the shining armours for the entire ‘Muslim world’,” notes his Facebook post. “Victims of majoritarianism in one context seem happy to see majoritarianism in another context as a welcome development. Speaks volumes about the politics and ideology of different types of Facebook friends I have.”
Journalist Rameez Makhdoomi said, “Having met core Erdogan supporters in Istanbul in 2017, some of whom I believe have been elected to current parliament, the difference between them and Kashmiri supporters of Erdogan is that they recognise they are not hundred per cent faultless and above criticism.”