Facts on ground seem like modern Turks don't know too much about Pakistanis and they are hospitable to a lot of people. Sometimes to sell them something in grand bazar. Same kinda goes for common Pakistanis who only read history books about Turkey or only watch the dizileri.Kardeş: The origins of Pakistan-Turkiye brotherhood
BR Web Desk Updated 02 Jun 2020
- Why do Pakistanis like Turkey so much? The bond between Turkey and Pakistan is much deeper than you might imagine.Travelers from Pakistan visiting international destinations face widely varying receptions, some expected, some unexpected, occasionally hostile and often indifferent. However, the reception that Pakistani visitors receive in Turkey is so refreshingly warm that it ends up being a cherished experience for every Pakistani that travels to Turkey for the first time. On one such trip my Taxi chauffeur having learnt that I had arrived from Pakistan, spent the entire journey from airport to the hotel in search of a YouTube video he wished to share with me. I assumed he was looking for a song to share, I felt a little concerned for both our safety, but I decided not to object out of courtesy. Having arrived at the hotel he didn’t want to let me go, until I had seen the video. The language gap, him not speaking in English and me not being able to converse in Turkish, heightened the mystery regarding this video clip. Finally having found the video, fortunately with english subtitles, we watched it together on his mobile phone. It was a Turkish TVNET interview of the Pakistani Consul General in Istanbul Dr Yousuf Junaid who narrated the story of his grandmother who had donated her gold jewelry for the Turkish War of independence as a little girl. The message of sacrifice and mutual affection between the two nations was undoubtedly emotional, and by the time the video ended I was embarrassingly misty eyed. I thanked him for sharing it with me, and hugged the gentleman before saying our goodbyes.
Pakistan’s consulate general Dr Yousuf Junaid’s interview with Turkey’s TVNET
The general impression among Pakistanis is that, the gracious attitude of ordinary Turks towards Pakistanis, be it a complimentary ‘Chai’ in a turkish restaurant or an offer of a seat at a tourist shop, may simply be due to Turkey and Pakistan being fellow muslim nations. Often, this surprising hospitality is attributed to the historical Turkic roots of our past empires and languages. With Turkey emerging as a republic after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and a fight against colonial powers, and Pakistan emerging as a republic after fall of the Mughal Empire and the colonization by British imperialists. I’ve often heard from Turkish friends that history lessons in the Turkish school system teach their students about historical friendship between the people of Pakistan and the Turks. Unfortunately, Pakistani elementary syllabus contains no such lessons, therefore references associated with this fraternal bond carry an element of humbling curiosity for us.
The Mughal Empire and the Ottoman Empire at their peak in 1683
Be it Turkish support to Pakistan when it comes to the Kashmir dispute or other international issues, Pakistanis are well aware of the fact that, Turkey goes out of its way to stand by Pakistan. But to understand this bond of brotherhood, and how it developed over a period of a hundred years we need to take a deeper look at the instances in our own history, when Pakistanis as a people went out of our way to stand by the Turks. Since it is our history, it is important that our younger generations must never be allowed to forget these golden deeds, which keep on bringing our way, the love and deference of our Turkish brothers. To serve this purpose, let’s take a deeper view into the origins of the Turkey Pakistan Brotherhood.
1. Khilafat Movement And Turkish War of Independence:
Khilafat Movement was established after allied victory at the end of the first world war, when Muslim leaders of British India, who would go on to lay the foundations of the Pakistan Movement belonging to All India Muslim League, and a few from the Indian National Congress, joined forces to help the Turks. They not only lobbied the British government against abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, but also raised funds for Turkish forces to fight allied imperial powers in a war of independence under leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
People of Turkey are relatively well versed in the history of the Turkish war of independence and the eventual abolition of Ottoman Caliphate. It is understandable for them to realize the significance of the Khilafat Movement towards their struggle for an independent Turkish Republic, however Pakistanis tend to misunderstand the Khilafat Movement as an effort to help the last Ottoman Caliph hold onto power, after the loss of the Central Powers in the Great War. Hence, it is important to look at the historical context in which the Khilafat Movement was initiated, and how it sought to influence the turn of events in Ottoman Turkey.
Pakistan’s founding fathers living under a colonial British empire after centuries of Muslim rule in India, carried an emotional burden of a progressive loss of an empire and ultimate subjugation to a foreign colonial power. They had a clear realization that the fall of Mughal empire was not the result of a single clash with hegemonic powers, rather it was a slow and steady decline spanning over a hundred years against deviously clever policies of western imperialism. Bengal was lost at the battle of Plassey in 1757, Bihar and Oudh was lost at the battle of Buxar in 1764, Mysore was lost at the Anglo Mysore war in 1799, Sindh was lost at the battle of Miani in 1843, Punjab was lost at the Anglo Sikh war in 1849, and British crown finally imposed direct control over Mughal India by deposing the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857.
100 year colonization of Mughal Empire 1757-1857
Therefore, Indian Muslim intellectuals could clearly identify with a similar fall of the Ottoman Empire, that was not a result of defeat in the first world war, rather it was also a result of gradual decline forced by a series of intermittent wars and treaties with the western powers. Crimea was lost in the Russo-Turkish War in 1774, Algeria and Tunisia were lost to the French in 1830 and 1881 respectively, Greece was lost to Britain, France and Russia at the London Protocol in 1829, Balkans and Romania were lost at the treaty of San Stefano in 1878, Egypt was lost to the British in 1882, Libya was lost in Turco-Italian war of 1912, and finally the allied western powers descended on the shores of Gallipoli to inflict a fatal blow upon the remnants of the once mighty Ottoman Empire.
Loss of Ottoman territories up till 1914
Ottoman Empire was not only a Turkish empire, it was also an Islamic empire that had been bearing the Islamic flag of Caliphate for centuries. After Abbasid empire had been decimated by the Mongols, Umayyad empire had being destroyed by the Spanish Reconquesta, Central Asian Muslim states had been conquered by Russian armies, and Mughal India had been colonized by the British, it was only the Ottoman Empire that was left standing as the sole Muslim power in 1914. In the First World War, Turks were not only defending their Anatolian homeland, but were also defending the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Hejaz and holy lands, as well as Palestine. Ottomans didn't expect concrete military or financial help from any of the poorer muslim backwater lands, however the Caliph still yearned for collective support of the Ummah, and it was in this hope that he declared a global jihad against colonial powers three weeks after start of the Great War. The response to this call for jihad was a deafening silence across the Muslim world. Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians,and Libyans couldn't help due to being chained in colonialism. Egyptians and Iranians were forced to collaborate with western allies against the Turks, and Arabs of Hejaz committed the ultimate betrayal, by rising in revolt against their own Caliph under the leadership of Sharif of Makkah.
It was just the Turks against the world, and the Turks felt disheartened & disillusioned with this lack of support, and Turkish national memory has been traumatized by the betrayal of fellow Muslims in a brutal war of survival, against the full might of non-muslim western powers. It was in these dark times that Shaukat Ali and Mohammad Ali Johar published an article in the Urdu weekly ‘Hamdard’ and English weekly ‘Comrade’ saying the Turks were justified in their fight against the British. They were subsequently blamed for being linked to the ‘Silk Letter Conspiracy,’ involving a plan to provoke rebellion against the British Indian government and to help the Ottoman war effort. “In these circumstances it was not surprising that the Ali brothers were interned in May 1915.” 1
Shaukat Ali (left) and his brother Mohammad Ali Johar (right)
Ali brothers had begun their careers in fundraising by running fundraising campaigns during the Aligarh Movement, to grant university status to the Aligarh College founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. They then, used these valuable experiences to raise funds for the Ottoman Turkish Wars even before the First World War, “during the Tripolitan War and the Balkan War in 1911-1912, Ali brothers devoted a large part of their seemingly boundless energies to collecting subscriptions for Turkic relief and for Red Crescent Medical Mission to aid wounded,” and “ Aligarh students contributed generously to the Turkish Relief Fund and several students went to Turkey with the Red Crescent Mission in 1912.” 2
In “surveying Muslim reactions in India in those years preceding World War One, we may discern three main groups. First the westernized middle class influenced by the Aligarh tradition, men like Ali brothers, Dr Ansari, and Hakim Ajmal Khan who grew disillusioned with the setbacks of preceding years, lost faith in British intentions and sought compensation in a feeling of Islamic solidarity. These were the men who came to the fore in the Muslim League after the Agha Khan had resigned as its president.. They became potential allies of the second group the Ulema, led by men like Abdul Bari and Mahmudul Hassan.. Both groups by their anti British feeling were drawn towards the third group: westernized Muslims whose outlook was not communal, but national and secular, and who sided with the Congress. About 1910 the leadership of this group had fallen to Jinnah,” and “in 1913 Mohammad Ali Jinnah met Muhammad Ali Johar and Sayyid Wazir Hassan in London and he was persuaded to join the Muslim League.” 3
Khilafat Movement’s Green Robed Fundraising Volunteers
The Khilafat Movement was established by the muslim leadership of India, at the end of the war in 1919 to help Turkish government survive the fallout of Allied victory, and loss of support from other Central powers who had surrendered at the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.Despite the fact that, the Ottomans had successfully defended Constantinople against a combined allied military attack called the Gallipoli Campaign, under the brilliant leadership of Colonel Mustafa Kemal commanding Ottoman 5th Army positioned at Canakkale.4 It is also important to note that the Khilafat Movement was primarily led by leaders of the Muslim League such as Mohammad Ali Johar and Shaukat Ali with their crowd gathering and fund raising abilities, and Allama Mohammad Iqbal with his philosophical inspirations who went on to campaign for the Pakistan Movement, and they were greatly aided in this cause by Seth Jan Mohamad Chotani who served as the President of Khilafat Conference, as well as the key banker who managed all Khilafat funds. Although Congress leader Maulana Abul Kalam Azad sincerely served the Khilafat Movement in his personal capacity, the Indian National Congress only offered their support as a way to gain grassroots support for ‘Swarag,’ and Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement against British rule. However, after a flimsily excuse of violence at the Chauri Chaura incident near Gorakhpur on February 5th 1922, Gandhi withdrew Congress support from the Khilafat Movement. 5
Ottoman Empire at the start of First World War
A common misconception is that the Khilafat Movement was a campaign to help the Ottoman Caliph hold onto power, which it certainly was not. Especially since, most political powers had already been transferred from the Ottoman Sultan to a parliamentary government of the ‘Young Turk’ led political party called ‘Committee of Union and Progress’ CUP, after the Young Turk Revolution for a constitutional government in 1908. But after assuming power “the CUP decided to leave Sultan Abdul Hamid II on the throne. He was revered by the Ottoman masses as both their sultan as well as the caliph and spiritual head of the Muslim world. Deposing Abdul Hamid might have generated more problems than benefits for the Young Turks in 1908. Moreover, the CUP’s leaders were mostly junior officers and low ranking bureaucrats in their late twenties and thirties, they lacked the confidence to assume all power into their own hands. Instead, they left the exercise of government to the grand vizier (prime minister) Said Pasha, and his cabinet and took the role of an oversight committee to ensure the sultan and his government upheld the constitution.” 6
Consequently, on 24 April 1909 fearing a counter revolution by an autocratic Caliph Abdul Hamid II, the Young Turk led ‘Action Army’ under a charismatic officer Major Ahmed Niyazi imposed martial law in Istanbul, “the two chambers of the Ottoman Parliament reconvened as the Grand National Assembly, and on 27 April 1909 voted to depose Sultan Abdul Hamid II and to install his younger brother Mehmed Resad as Sultan Mehmed V.” 7 This effectively took all political powers away from the Caliph and transferred them to the Young Turk government under leadership of a triumvirate of Enver Pasha, Jemal Pasha and Talat Pasha
The Ottomans fought the Balkans wars of 1912 under a government of the Young Turks. Funds were still being sent by Mohammad Ali Johar collected with his own grassroot efforts, directly to the CUP government through various Turkish organizations, and not to the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul. It shows that the anti war Khilafat Movement led by the Ali brothers, was waged just as much to help the Turkish nation retain independence in the event of a loss to the western powers, as it was to lobby the British Crown against abolishing the institution of Khilafat. These efforts were a result of the personal initiative of the Ali brothers, and a product of their elaborate social and political network. At the the end of First World War when the Ottoman Empire faced dismemberment and defeat away from Anatolia on various fronts, this fundraising campaign already being run the Ali brothers gradually transformed into the Khilafat Movement.
The Ottoman Sultan Mehmet V died during the last days of the First World War in 1918, and his cousin Mehmet VI rose to the throne, however the Ottoman government remained with the CUP triumvirate of Young Turks who tried their best to retain as many Ottoman territories as possible till the end of the war. But, when Talat Pasha the grand vizier realized on 13 October 1918 that the war was no longer winnable he along with the triumvirate resigned, and sent a captured British General Charles Townsend to the allies to seek terms on an armistice. The Armistice of Mudros was concluded on 30 October 1918 ending hostilities the next day, between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied powers ending the Great War. 8
As soon as the armistice was signed on 1 November 1918, the Young Turk leadership boarded a German naval vessel in the middle of the night and escaped away from Ottoman lands. The triumvirate of Talat, Enver, Jemal accompanied by four of their closest advisers made their way to Berlin, where they received asylum from German allies. It was then that the Ottoman Sultan assumed a new found political power, and he appointed a new administration. However, the Ottoman military power had also evaporated overnight, leading to disillusionment and discontent across the Ottoman domains. On 13 November 1918, allied navies descended on the Ottoman capital. Forty two vessels led by the British dreadnought HMS Agamemnon led the fleet of French, Italian and Greek warships. Admiral Somerset Calthorpe and his officers triumphantly disembarked onto the streets of Istanbul, and began taking possession of the city without any resistance from the hapless Ottoman spectators.9 The capital city was to be administered by the British, meanwhile the Italian naval forces landed in Antalya, taking over administration of southern Anatolian cities, the Greek forces took over Izmir and surrounding towns, and French took over administration of the towns around Adana.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in one of his last wartime appointments, was assigned to the command of the Ottoman Seventh Army in Palestine in July of 1918. By September of 1918 he was serving as one of the few successful generals leading the Ottoman army in engagements across Transjordan. According to Lord Kinross, ‘Ataturk was the only Turkish General in the Great War who never suffered a defeat.’ 10
A day after the signing of the armistice Ataturk was appointed to the command of the Yildirim Army Group in Transjordan, replacing the German military advisor Otto Liman Von Sanders who was recalled by Germany as war had ended. Soon thereafter, Yildirim Army Group was also dissolved and Ataturk returned to an occupied Constantinople on 13 November 1918. Horrified to see the allied armies roaming around the capital of the Ottoman Empire, he would have wondered how the Turks had lost on the negotiating table, what they had won on the battlefield in Canakkale. As the Young Turk CUP government had collapsed, and the administration of the government had been resumed by the Caliph Mehmed the VI. Ataturk was assigned a desk job at the Ministry of War (Harbiye Nezareti) in Istanbul. As the Sultan had regained direct rule, the survival of his rule began to be his immediate concern, he began negotiating a treaty that would sanction his own position amid foreign occupation. With the signing of the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, and a disastrous agreement partition to the Anatolian homeland of the Turks, it’s easy to note that he had already resigned himself to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Vestiges of the Young Turks were resentful of this capitulation, but in the absence of any leadership, the loss of Turkish independence seemed to have been a foregone conclusion.
In was in these dark times that, on 30 April 1919 the Sultan’s government appointed Ataturk as the inspector of the remnants of the Ninth Army, and he was sent to Anatolia to effectively demobilize the remaining Ottoman military units, and reorganize them as internal security policing units answerable to the Sultan. In the life of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk this was a watershed moment, either he was going to follow his orders and let the Turks fall into a life of colonial submission, or he was going to risk his life and challenge the whole world, including his own Sultan. History would have it that he chose the later option. On 19 May 1919, he dramatically arrived in the Anatolian town of Samsun, and began a campaign of organized national resistance, to evict all occupying allied forces from the Turkish homeland.
In June 1919 he issued the Amasya Circular, that publicly declared his intentions to lead a movement of Turkish independence. This resulted in his warrant for arrest being issued by his own Ottoman government in July 1919, and he was condemned to death for calling for the independence of his own homeland by the government of the Ottoman Caliph, to gain approval of occupying colonial powers. Disregarding Constantinople’s orders, Ataturk proceeded to assemble a national congress of Turks in Sivas, and issued the Misak-i-Milli a “National Pact” of resistance to foreign occupation. The congress appointed him as the head of its executive committee, making him the official leader of the Turkish resistance based in Ankara. Meanwhile, in December 1919 the Sultan held elections to the Ottoman parliament based in Constantinople, as a way to legitimize his own rule and gain public support.
However, the elections resulted in a clear majority for “Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdafaa-i-Hukuk Cemiyeti” political group headed by Ataturk, who himself remained away in Ankara. When this parliament was called into session by the Sultan, it quickly adopted the Misak-i-Milli declaration of Ataturk as national policy. This proved to be a serious blow to the rule of the Sultan, and a threat to allied occupation, therefore on 18 March 1920 British forces went into action and dissolved the Ottoman Parliament. In response, Ataturk called for a national election and the establishment of a ‘Grand National Assembly’ to be based in Ankara. On 23 April 1920, a new Turkish parliament called ‘Grand National Assembly’ GNA opened in Ankara, and elected Ataturk as the first speaker of the assembly.
Meanwhile, an increasingly weakened Ottoman Caliph hastily concluded treaty negotiations with the allied powers, and on 10 August 1920 his Grand Vizier Damat Ferid Pasha signed the Treaty of Sevres on Sultan’s behalf. The treaty officially called for partition of the Ottoman lands, and even sanctioned direct foreign occupation of the Anatolian Turkish heartland. This proved to be the ultimate act of treachery by the Ottoman Caliph himself against Turkish independence, and resulted in Ataturk convincing the GNA to come together, and mobilize ‘Kuva-yi Milliye’ a Turkish National Army based in Central Anatolia. They would now have to fight the ‘Kuva-yi Inzibatiye’ the Ottoman Caliph’s Royal Guards, supported by the Greeks in Western Anatolia, the Armenians in Eastern Anatolia, the French in Southern Anatolia, and the British and Italians in Constantinople.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha (right) with his close advisor Ismet Pasha in Ankara
Hence, Turks began the legendary ‘Istiklal Harbi’ the war of independence, knowing full well that, all they had to count on, was the spirit of the Turkish people. Because with collapse of the empire, betrayal by the arabs, colonial overhang over most muslim lands, and with no western allies, there was hardly any nation left in the world that could help the Turks militarily, financially or politically. During the the initial skirmishes between Turkish nationalists and the occupying allies, some of the Royal Ottoman Guards deserted the Caliph’s Army and joined the nationalists. The allied command then disbanded the Kuva-yi Inzibatiye, and decided to fight the Turks with their own war hardened western forces. Out of all the battles fought in this fight of Turkish liberation the ‘Battle of Sakarya’ holds the highest significance. The battle that began on 23 of August 1921 along the banks of the Sakarya River went on for 21 days, With a battle line that stretched a hundred kilometers, with under a hundred thousand Turks on one side and over a hundred thousand Greeks on the other, it was a brutal battle described later by Ataturk as ‘Melhame Kubra’ just like Armageddon. With 38 thousand casualties the Turks heroically routed the Greek forces who suffered around 22 thousand casualties. Turkish officers fought so valiantly that the battle came to be known as ‘Subaylar Savasi’ the Officer’s Battle, due to 70-80 % casualty rate among the officers, and it is considered the turning point of the Turkish War of Independence.11
Leaders of the Khilafat movement knew that financial support of the movement for Turkish independence could not have been more critical in these circumstances. It is also important to emphasize that, even though the Khilafat Movement was established to safeguard the institution of the caliphate, and leaders of the Khilafat Movement remained hopeful that, when the goal of Turkish independence was achieved, the institution of Khilafat would somehow be retained. We need to remember that, Mohammad Ali Johar had spent four years in prison for advocating resistance to the British war against colonization of the Ottoman lands and there was no way he could have allowed Khilafat funds to go to the Sultan’s government that was helping the allied armies in colonizing the Turks. Hence, collections coming into the Khilafat Fund never went to the Ottoman Sultan, or to his government during the Turkish war of independence. During the Great War, funds were sent to the CUP led government leading the war effort, and as news of the Treaty of Sevres began reaching the subcontinent, Khilafat Funds began to be redirected towards the Ataturk led movement in Ankara. In the start of 1921, two new funds were established by the Khilafat Committee to lay emphasis on the support for Ankara based government of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk called the new “Angora Fund,” and for the. relief of Turkish victims in the war with Greece in Izmir called the new “Smyrna Fund.”12. Hence, the focus of the Khilafat Movement was directed entirely towards financially supporting the Turkish independence, and historical records show that Ataturk sent delegations to India to meet with the leaders of the Khilafat Movement, and to collect the gold and cash funds from them in person.13
Borders of the Modern Turkish Republic secured by Ataturk with Treaty of Lausanne
After returning to Ankara with the title of ‘Gazi’ Mustafa Kemal was honored as the savior of the Turkish nation. After many more battles and brutal military engagements, he signed the crucial ‘Treaty of Kars’ with the Russians, then ‘Treaty of Ankara’ with the French, and then retook the city of Smyrna from the Greeks after another vicious ‘Battle of Dumlupinar’ on 11 September 1922. With sheer force of determination the Turks succeeded in evicting Greek forces from Asia Minor, leaving the conditions ideal for the Turkish army’s move towards Constantinople, as the allies realized the failure of their efforts at colonization, they began to plan their exit. As a departing ploy, the allied invitation for peace negotiations at the Conference of Lausanne was sent to both, the government of Grand National Assembly in Ankara, as well as the Ottoman Sultan’s government in Constantinople. Since, Ankara government had considered the war of independence as a fight against the monarchist Ottoman government that had fought with the western powers against the Turkish people, the GNA determined that only the Ankara government would be represented at the conference. On 1 November 1922, the Grand National Assembly met in Ankara and declared that the Sultan’s government was no longer representative of the Turkish people, and as representative body of the Turkish nation the GNA declared the Sultanate to be abolished, and Mehmed VI to be deposed as Sultan of the Ottoman government. This abolition brought an end to the Ottoman Empire and gave birth to an independent Turkish state. The conference of Lausanne recognized the sovereignty of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 11 November 1922. The last Ottoman Sultan accepting the new reality, departed Constantinople aboard the British warship Malaya on 17 November 1922. However, the office of Caliphate itself was still not abolished, and a fortnight later Mehmed VI was succeeded by his nephew Abdul Mecid II as the Caliph, being no longer a Sultan. Subsequently, the ‘Treaty of Lausanne’ was signed with the allies on 24 July 1923, ending all foreign occupation from the lands defined as the modern Republic of Turkey.14
Shaukat Ali - Leader of The Khilafat & Pakistan Movements
During the Turkish war of independence, Ali brothers engaged in extensive tours across the length and breath of the Indian subcontinent focusing on muslim towns located mostly in present day Pakistan. They travelled with green robed volunteers, making passionate appeals to help the desperate Turks in need. On one of his fundraising tours Shaukat Ali announced to shake hands with only those who made contributions for the Turkish funds, and those who made large contributions he allowed them to kiss his hand. Allama Iqbal on the other hand kept busy in providing poetic inspiration to the Turkish struggle against western powers, holding large poetry meetings, addressing massive crowds and making sentimental appeals urging Muslims of Indian to fund the Turkish war effort. Some of the Muslim families of India were still extremely wealthy such as the nawabs of Deccan, Oudh, Junagadh, and Bahawalpur were some of the wealthiest people in the world who made significant contributions towards these funds. But the real reason for the success of this fundraising campaign was the popular support from ordinary Muslims of the subcontinent, that still echoes in the hearts of the people of Pakistan. Incredible stories of sacrifice and support by men, women and even children are still remembered in households across Pakistan. One such instance is when, Khilafat volunteers at the Dargah of Ajmer Sharif got so many generous donations, in cash and gold ornaments that, Khilafat volunteers went out of all the receipts they had.15
Abadi Begum known as ‘Bi Amma’ - Mother of Shaukat Ali & Mohammad Ali Johar
Finally, any look at the Khilafat Movement would be incomplete, without noting the contributions of two dynamic women leaders of the movement. Abadi Begum, mother of Ali brothers, and Amjadi Bano Begum, wife of Mohammad Ali Johar. They inspired the rank and file of the Khilafat Movement with their resolve and steadfast support. They staunchly held the fort of Khilafat Movement strong in the face of British repression, particularly during imprisonment of the Ali brothers for campaigning in support of the fellow Muslim Ottomans. Abadi Begum also known as ‘Bi Amma’ was an energetic public speaker and proved herself as a great asset in campaigning, especially in soliciting the support of women for the Khilafat Movement. In 1917 during the sessions of the All India Muslim League she gave a forceful speech that established her as a leader of the Muslims in British India. She traveled extensively throughout the subcontinent to galvanize support for the Khilafat Movement, and played an important role in fundraising, especially in the large scale collections of gold ornaments, donated by the Muslim women to support the the Ottomans.
Amjadi Bano Begum (extreme right) sitting left of Fatima Jinnah & Quaid e Azam MA Jinnah
Amjadi Bano Begum, also accompanied her husband Mohammad Ali Johar and her mother in-law Abadi Begum on numerous tours across the. Subcontinent to raise funds for the Turkish War of Independence. She didn’t discontinue her political struggle even after the sad demise of her husband on 4 January 1931. She went on to become a formidable leader of the Pakistan Movement, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan had great admiration for her and he appointed her as a member of the working committee of Pakistan Muslim league. She had the unique distinction of being one of the 25 members of the working committee at the twenty seventh annual session held in Lahore from 22nd to 24th March 1940, and participated in the drafting of the historic ‘Pakistan Resolution’ passed on 23rd of March 1940. Qaid-e-Azam declared her death on 28 March 1947, less than five months before the independence of Pakistan, as ‘undoubtedly a great loss for the nation in particular and Muslim women in general.’ It was her children who went on to live in a free country, and an independent Pakistan that their ancestors worked so hard to achieve.’
Abolition of the Caliphate took place 18 months after the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate, until which time the Abdul Mecid II remained the ex officio Caliph. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had preferred not to abolish the centuries old office of the Caliph in deference to the feeling of Muslims across the world, however his one condition was that the Caliphate would not be based in Turkey.16 He considered the responsibility of having the Caliph in Turkey too big to be borne by the new young republic that he had extensive reform plans for, and he had no problem in transferring the Caliphate to another Islamic nation that was willing to accept the office. In the 18 month period several candidates were proposed from across the world including King Hussein of Hejaz, King Yusef of Morocco, King Amanullah of Afghanistan, King Faud of Egypt, and Ataturk is also recorded as having offered the caliphate to Ahmed Sharif As-Sennusi of Libya who again nominated Abdul Mecid II instead of himself.17 A consensus couldn't be developed across the Muslim world towards candidacy of a single leader as Caliph, and pleas kept arriving in Ankara to re-establish the Ottoman Caliphate in Constantinople, that the Turks had recently fought against. Thus, on the 3rd of March 1924 by decree of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Abdul Mecid II was deposed from the office of Caliph, as was Mustafa Sabri as the last Ottoman Shaykhul Islam, ending all prospects of the return of the Ottoman Caliphate to Constantinople.
2. National Poet of Pakistan Mohammad Iqbal’s Love For Turkey:
Having gone through an overview of the Turkish war of independence, Ottoman Caliph’s signing the Treaty Of Sevres, and Khilafat Movement’s support to the war of Turkish independence. It allows us to understand the context of Mohammad Iqbal’s effusive poetry in praise of the spirit of Turkish people, as well as the heroic leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Iqbal expressed confidence in the capacity of the Turks to defeat the forces of dogmatism and regenerate themselves as a strong, free nation on the path to progress, and he described reformist policies of the Ankara government including the abolition of caliphate as a ‘judicial choice.’18 Iqbal wrote moving poems in agony at the defeats faced by Ottoman forces in the Balkans, in North Africa and in Arabia. Later, he used his verse to celebrate Turkish victories led by Mustafa Kemal at Canakkale, especially routing the Greek armies into the sea in Izmir, and to the eventual eviction of all non-Muslims foes from Anatolia.
Allama Iqbal was greatly inspired with the resolve of the Turks in those turbulent times, and his poetry follows the progress of Turkish independence in detail. Applauding the process of the abolition of the first Ottoman Parliament leading to the second Grand National Assembly in Ankara, the adoption of the Misak-i-Milli declaration, to the contents of the Turkish constitution of 1924. He has written in approval of Turkish reforms, the abolition of the Sultanate, and the foundation of the Turkish Republic. In his poem Biladul Islam, Iqbal describes Istanbul as the ‘heart of Muslim community.’19
Turkish Stamp issued in honor of of Allama Mohammad Iqbal
Iqbal’s two great works on Turkish victories are Khizr-i-Rah and Tolu-e-Islam. He applauded the heroic deeds of Turks with sentimental verses of his poem In the Presence of Mohammad, which he himself sang at a charity event in Lahore about Ottomans fighting the Tripolitanian War in alliance with Libyan tribal forces. When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk called for a national struggle of independence in Anatolia, he appealed to the entire Muslim world for support writing, “the flags of Islam, subject to defeats in every other region, have now gathered in Anatolia,” and to “protect the Turkish nation who stirred in order that all Muslim hearts beat as one.” Mohammad Iqbal took Ataturk’s letter and read it during a passionate speech at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, in presence of more than quarter of a million people gathered to perform Namaze Eid Ul Adha. Addressing the people, he said, “Let’s pray, brothers, that flag shall not fall down in those bastions till doomsday. May the sun of Islam remain bright; may Allah help Mustafa Kemal, the great leader who defends Muslims against Christians. May Allah bestow victory upon the last soldier of Islam.”20 It is said Iqbal’s renowned poem Tolu-e-Islam was based upon the famous victory in the Battle of Sakarya, where he asks all Muslims to take the path of rightousness, justice and courage as a matter of principle.21
He goes on to hail the Turks led by Ataturk as heroic people, when in Tolu-e-Islam he say:
“The subsistence of life in the world comes by virtue of faith;
Look, Turanians have surpassed even German in endurance.”
As a poet, a philosopher, a politician, a leader of the All India Muslim League, a leader of the Khilafat Movement, and as the leader who presented a concept of an independent Muslim state based upon the lands that constituent present day Pakistan, Allama Mohammad Iqbal observed the Muslim world keenly, for remedies for the revival of Islamic societies, and to realize him dream of an Islamic Renaissance. The independence struggle of Turks and their brave deeds against Western colonialists aroused immense admiration in his heart, and his eloquent poetry reflects it. His works have been extensively translated in the Turkish language, and widely read by Turkish students as well as the general public. These literary contributions alone by Allama Iqbal, are responsible for a tremendous amount of goodwill, that exists amongst the Turks for the people of Pakistan.
3. Formation Of Turkey’s First National Bank:
The campaigns to collect donations to support the Turkish War of Independence by Muslims from the sub-continent ended up being a very successful effort. So much so that, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had been personally handed over around six hundred thousand Turkish Liras for the war effort. While only two hundred and twenty thousand were used for the war, the balance of three hundred and eighty thousand Turkish Liras went unused and were returned to Ataturk following the war. In July of 1924, Ataturk stated: “Paramount among measures that will liberate and augment the nation is the establishment of a bank, utterly modern and national in identity, born directly out of the people’s respect and confidence.”
Ataturk’s close aide Celal Byar was given the responsibility to establish the first national bank in the newly independent republic of Turkey. Starting capital of the bank was an amount of TL 250,000 that was deposited by Ataturk from donations received from the Khilafat committees. In 1925 Isbank backed the launch of Turkey’s first insurance company ‘Anadolu Sigorta.’ Hence, Turkish historical records credit these generous cash and gold donations of the Muslims from Pakistan, for their help in the establishment of the first financial institutions of the Turkish Republic.
4. Pakistan’s Support To Northern Cyprus:
Pakistan’s unstinted support for the Turks during the Northern Cyprus Crisis is another issue that brought the Turks closer to the people of Pakistan. Let’s briefly take a look at the conflict, in order to understand the importance of Pakistan’s support to Turkey on this issue. As we know, Turkey and Greece both are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO, as their defence is ensured by this powerful military alliance. However, in the case of a conflict between Greece and Turkey, western countries tend to lean more towards the Greek positions. The Cypriot conflict of 1974 is a case in point that glaringly proves this bias by the NATO allies of Turkey.
After Turkish defeat in the Turko-Russian War of 1878, Britain reached agreement with the Ottomans to lease Cyprus, as it is a strategic island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The Turks agreed and Britain became the administering authority on the island. In 1912, Britain offered ‘Enosis’ meaning a union of Cyprus with Greece to the Greek state, in exchange for a British military base in Cephalonia or Argostoli in Greece. In 1915 ‘Enosis’ was offered again in return for Greek cooperation in the First World War. Greece refused both these offers. However, Greece and the Greek Cypriot population had always espoused a shared desire to achieve ‘Enosis,’ despite the prospect of such a move violating the political rights of the Turkish Cypriot population. To resolve repeated disputes and opposing interests in Cyprus, a Treaty of Guarantee was signed between the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Britain in 1960. It banned Cyprus from any political or economic union with any other state, required the other parties to guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus, and allowed a right to the guarantor powers to take action in order to maintain status quo in Cyprus.
Therefore, in 1974 when a Greek military junta in Cyprus staged a coup d'etat and proclaimed the ‘Hellenic Republic of Cyprus,’ it was perceived as a blatant violation of the Treaty of Guarantee by Turkey. Greek Cypriot military began moving into Turkish towns, and committing horrible atrocities, with the ultimate object of ethnic cleansing of the Turks from Cyprus and eventual ‘Enosis.’ Several massacres took place in towns and villages, where mostly Turkish population had resided. Cypriot Turks desperately pleaded with the mainland Turks for help. When Turkey raised the issue at international forums, the response of the international community was rather muted. European powers remained sympathetic to the Greeks, the United States remained neutral, Arab countries refused to support Turkish interests, and Soviet Union and its allies opposed Turkish attempts to resolve the conflict, due to historic ties with the Greeks. Yet again, Pakistan emerged as the only country in the world, that not only publicly supported Turkish position regarding Greek atrocities in Cyprus, but also dramatically announced an offer of military combat and medical support troops, to be airlifted to Turkey, in the case military hostilities breakout between Turkey and Cyprus. Just imagine, the feelings of fraternity and brotherhood the Turks must have felt for Pakistanis at that moment.
Pakistan’s support to Turkey regarding the conflict in Cyprus didn’t just end there, as Pakistan continued to stand by Turkey at all international forums. After Turkey had successfully protected the Turkish population in Cyprus from a brutal massacre, the international community suddenly woke up and tried using United Nations Security Council Resolutions to undermine Turkish interests. In both cases Turkey found Pakistan as a serving member state of the UN Security Council, and in both cases Pakistan was the only country in the world that voted against these resolutions.
5. Nagorno Karabakh Azerbaijan Conflict And Pakistan:
Another reason for endearment of Pakistan to the Turkish people is our extraordinary assistance to the people of Azerbaijan, and the consistent diplomatic, political and military support to them on the dispute of Nagorno Karabakh. Azerbaijan is also a Turkic country with a 91% ethnically Turkic Azerbaijani population, and currently a member state of both the Turkic Council or Cooperation Council of Turkic States CCTS and the International Organization of Turkic Culture TURKSOY. Due to these historic and cultural ties, Turkey was the first country to recognize Azerbaijan as an independent country. Pakistan was the second country to recognize Azerbaijan after Turkey, six months before the dissolution of the USSR on 12 December 1991. Pakistan is also one of the first countries in the world to open an embassy in Baku.
Right after independence Armenian forces invaded Azerbaijani territories in Nagorno Karabakh region, and massacred a large number of Azerbaijani civilians notably in the town of Khojaly, in order to ethnically cleanse the region of Muslims. Pakistan is one of a few countries in the world that recognizes this horrific atrocity as a genocide. There have been reports that, Pakistan covertly organized and transported up to 3000 Hizb-e-Islami fighters working for Gulbadin Hekmetyar to Azerbaijan, and flew them out of Peshawar via Iran onto Baku.22 From where they were sent to the frontlines in Nagorno Karabakh to selflessly fight to save thousands of Azerbaijani lives from the oppression of the Armenian army.23
To understand how these steps truly affected sentiments of the Turks, we need to consider the historically antagonistic relationship between the Turkish people and the Armernians. Being orthodox Christians, Armenians have traditionally been Russian and Greek allies, and have always been a thorn in the side of Turkish influence in the region and the world. They were the ones who most viciously resisted the Ottoman forces during the Ottoman-Russian wars, fought them viciously in the First World War, and actively sabotaged the Turkish War of independence. When Armenians imposed blatant aggression against Azerbaijan’s independence in Nagorno Karabakh, western powers were generally sympathetic to the Armenian position. Largely due to the lobbying clout of Armenian diaspora in western countries, and due to the Armenians being fellow Christians. Were it not for Pakistan, Turkey would be the only vocal proponent of Azerbaijani positions on this dispute.
As luck would have it again, Pakistan had assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in April of 1993. With the dynamic Jamshed Marker as President we swiftly called a meeting of the United Security Council in April of 1993, that unanimously adopted Resolution no: 822, that was co-sponsored by Pakistan and Turkey, regarding the Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Despite intense lobbying by Armenian allies, Pakistan succeeded in having the resolution passed, explicitly demanding Armenian army to end the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. Pakistan is the only country in the world that still refuses to recognize Armenia as an independent state until Armenian forces ends the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh, and to this day Pakistan has no diplomatic relations with Armenia.
7. Singapore Mutiny And Ottomans:
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More than half a million Indians fought for the allies as Sepoys in the British Indian Army, and almost 40% of the Indian Army consisted of Muslims during the First World War, some fought in Europe, some fought in Burma, but some were also sent to fight the Ottomans. It is also important to note that first of all, the British Indian Army was a British Army and not an Indian Army, and before 1918 all commissioned officers with ‘Kings Commission’ were exclusively British. They received training in British military academies such as Sandhurst, trained to fight Britain’s colonial wars, made to learn local Indian languages and then sent to India. Native Indians were mostly recruited as foot soldiers or as junior commissioned officers with ‘Viceroy’s Commission,’ and had authority only over Indian troops. Secondly, as part of a disciplined army, Indian ‘sepoys’ had been used by the British to impose colonial rule upon their own native lands to defeat and subjugate them. Thirdly, a major reason why Indian army with a large presence of muslim soldiers was sent to fight in campaigns against Central Powers including Ottomans, in Mesopotamia, North Africa and Europe was due to the British policy of mixing Muslims with non-Muslims in each unit, and because there were relatively few one religion units in the Indian Army.
In spite of the above, there still are extensive records in war archives from the Great War, that detail how Indian Muslims recruited from towns in present day Pakistan, refused to fight the Ottomans and even deserted their positions to fight along the Turks. At the Ottoman ‘Siege of Kut’ in Mesopotamia, General Townsend reported Indian Muslim troops deserting to the Ottomans, and he sent an entire Battaliion composed largely of Muslims away from the frontlines back to Basra.25 British artillery gunner W.D. Lee also recorded explicitly, “several times during the siege I heard of Mohammadans who had left our trenches and deserted to the Turks, but some who were caught in attempting to escape from our lines were shot before their regiments.”26 In March 1915, major general Arther Barret the commander of 6th Indian Division even went so far as, to twice request the return of four companies of Muslim soldiers from Mesopotamia back to India, on the grounds that they could not be depended upon to fight their fellow Muslim Ottomans. One of the most notable of these desertions was of Jemadar Mir Mast Khan Afridi from the 58th Frontier Force (Vaughan Rifles). In 1914 his unit was shipped to France as part of the Indian Infantry Corps in the Ypres Sector. On the night of 15 March 1915 he crossed over to the German lines along with 14 Afridi sepoys. From there he was sent to Turkey to meet the Mufti of Istanbul. He went on to not only recruit a thousand muslim soldiers from Pakistan’s tribal areas to fight for the Ottomans, but he also displayed exceptional bravery on the battlefield, and became a recipient of the highest German gallantry award the ‘Iron Cross’ from German Kaiser Willhelm II. When allied forces eventually surrendered at the Siege of Kut in April 1916, the Ottomans captured 13,000 prisoners. A large number of them were Muslim soldiers belonging to towns in present day Pakistan, who joined the Turkish military as the Ottoman Indian Volunteer Corps. In the winter of 1915-1916 four hundred members of the war hardened Indian Army’s 15th Lancers, a Muslim majority unit fresh from fighting the Germans in Neuve, Chapelle, Auber, Festubert, Loos and Essenes Ridge in France, flat out refused to fight the Ottomans in Mesopotamia. They were sent to patrol the bandits in Persia, and the 15th Lancers were reorganized as a multi religion unit after the war.
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Muslim mutineers are lined up to be executed by a firing squad in Singapore
But the most glorious act of solidarity with the Ottoman Turks took place on 15 February 1915 in Singapore. The Great War had officially begun and the Ottomans Turks had entered the war. The 5th Light Infantry Regiment of the British Indian Army was another all Muslim regiment, and consisted mainly of Rajput Punjabis, and Multani Pathans from present day Pakistan. In February of 1915 they were stationed in Singapore to replace the Yorkshire Light Infantry. When rumors spread among Sepoys that they were going to be sent to fight fellow muslim soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, all 800 muslim soldiers turned against their colonial masters, killing 40 British officers and seizing huge amounts of arms and ammunition. Since Singapore is an island, they knew very well that this rebellion would result in certain death, but they still kept resisting British reinforcements arriving in Singapore for almost two days, before they were overwhelmed. Most of them died in battle, many fled into the jungles, and around 200 were captured alive. A public execution by firing squad was held by the British to punish the mutineers. They eventually lost the battle and their lives, but gloriously expressed the lack of their willingness to fight against their Turkish brothers. This incident was widely reported in the Turkish Press and made a huge impression that, if there is a group of people in the world, who are willing to show undying solidarity with the Turks, it is the people from present day Pakistan.
Some or all of the above facts are being taught in the Turkish school system, either at the elementary or at the advanced level, and this is the reason why Turks often go out of their way to show affinity for people from Pakistan. But, this information, regarding some of the brightest episodes of our history, is tragically absent from the Pakistani school system. Our future generations must be kept aware of these historical events, because the selfless dedication of our founding fathers to the principle of fraternity with our fellow Muslims, is indeed worth remembering; and our children must learn and be proud, that we as the people of Pakistan share a glorious history with our Turkish brothers.
By Khuram Malik,
Pakistani tech entrepreneur based in Sweden, with a background in history, geopolitics, economy, counter-terrorism and media