A good team – Dr A Q Khan


Lately we have been hearing a lot about Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogen. Whenever and wherever any Muslim community faces problems or persecution, he is the one who raises a strong voice.

Turkey and its army were a power to be reckoned with until the 17th century and the Jan Nisari used to send fear into the hearts of their enemies. Originating from Central Asia, they more or less inherited the Mongol way of fighting and bravery. Western powers became Turkey’s enemy because it made the mistake of siding with the Germans during WWII. However, Mustafa Kemal Pasha managed to enable Turkey to survive as an independent nation because he defeated various armies many times during many battles.

The history of the Turkish nation is almost 4,000 years old. They had first settled in Central Asia but in the 11th century they came to Anatolia. In 1299 a Turk named Usman laid the foundation of the Turkish Empire. From there they spread rather quickly and by the 14th century Turkey was a force to be reckoned with. They ruled Eastern Europe, Arabia, Chinese Turkistan etc for more than 600 years. Even today, Urumchi (the capital of the Chinese Xinjiang province) has many buildings with Turkish script on them.

My fate was nearly tied to Turkey when I received an offer of a professorship at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara. We had more or less decided to move there but the Indian nuclear explosion of 1974 changed all that.

Here are a few facts about the presidency of H E Recep Tayyib Erdogen, some of which are not commonly known: In 2013 Turkey’s GDP was one trillion one hundred million dollars, equal to the combined GDPs of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Their economy rose from 111th place to 16th place by gaining 10 points per year.

A target has been set to make Turkey a great economic and political power by 2023. Istanbul International Airport is now Europe’s largest airport. Turkish Airlines has been named the best airline for the last three years. During his tenure, two billion 770 million fruit trees and trees for commercial purposes have been planted. High quality armoured tanks, fighter aircraft, drones and satellites have been indigenously developed. Around 125 universities, 189 colleges and 510 hospitals have been established. New schools have been built in order to limit class size to 21 students. While European universities were increasing their fees, Turkey made education free of charge for all.

Per capita income increased from $3,500 to $11,000, higher than those of France and Italy. The almost 100-year-old nagging problems of Cyprus and Armenia were solved. Salaries were increased by 300 percent and unemployment was reduced by 38 percent to a mere two percent. The budget for health and education is more than that for defence. The salaries for teachers and doctors are equal.

Around 35,000 technical laboratories have been established where young people practice for future studies. The budget deficit of $47 billion was made up and the last loan of $300 million repaid to the World Bank. Exports rose from $23 billion to $153 billion. They export to 190 different countries.

The country’s waste matter is used for the production of electricity, making up one-third of its total requirements. Young people are involved in discussions about Turkey’s future. When the Israelis attacked a Turkish cargo ship heading for Gaza, they were forced to apologize and remove the blockade. At Davos, when the Israeli president justified the killing of Palestinians and received applause from Western leaders, it was the Turkish president who stood up and reprimanded them for this act, which had resulted in the indiscriminate killing of women and children, after which he departed from the gathering.

President Erdogan’s daughter was sent to Europe to study as she wore hijab, which was banned in Turkey at the time. It has now been declared permissible. He was the only Muslim leader who flew to Burma with his wife when Muslims were being persecuted there. Islamic Studies have been started at schools and universities.

Lights spelling out “Bismillah” were installed on the Bosphorus Bridge while an Arab ruler spent $40 million on a Christmas tree. The Arabic script is to be brought back.

Alas, our rulers cannot compare to the Turkish president.