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> Lessons from Consolidation of Democracy in Turkey Shared
   
 
Public Forum
January 09, 2014
Islamabad

   

January 09; Lessons from consolidation of democracy in Turkey were shared today with MPs, think tanks and media representatives at a PILDAT Public Forum.

The PILDAT Public Forum was held to discuss and disseminate the learning from the week-long study visit of Pakistani MPs and members of PILDAT Dialogue Group on Civil-Military Relations that was facilitated by PILDAT from November 10-15, 2013.

Chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, (Islamabad-PML), the Speakers at the Forum included Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA, Former Federal Minister of Defence, (NA-222 Hyderabad-V, Sindh, PPPP); Senator Farhatullah Babar, Former Spokesman President of Pakistan, (Khyber Pakhtukhwa-PPPP); Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, MNA (NA-173, D.G. Khan-III, Punjab, PML-N), Chair of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs; Ms. Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, (NA-278, Punjab, PML-N); Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA, (NA-342, Non-Muslim-X, Sindh, PML-N); Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Humayun Bangash, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh; Former Federal Minister for Interior; Mr. Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary Interior; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT.

 
 

Opening the Forum, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed appreciated PILDAT and its initiative to get together a diverse group of people to learn from Turkish democratic consolidation. He said that PILDAT has developed a strong role as a political yet non-partisan political think tank that is connecting Parliament and multi-party MPs on critical issues of public policy. Sharing details of the Study Visit, Senator Sayed said that meetings and interactions were held at the highest level of the President of the Republic of Turkey.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that despite many similarities in Pakistan and Turkey, Pakistan's unique challenges include the large footprint of military in State and commercial affairs as well as the role of non-state actors in Pakistan. He said that the internal factors contributing to democratic consolidation in Turkey include economic development and political stability followed by constitutional reforms. The desire to have EU accession and to promote market economy is the external factors that have contributed to Turkish success in democratic consolidation.

 
 

Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, MNA Chair of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that the visit provided avenues of great learning to him personally. Citing his written analysis emanating from the Study Visit, he said that economic consolidation preceded democratic consolidation in Turkey, followed by successful model of democratic civil-military relations. Financial and political discipline, alongside good governance, has been the major contributions of the Turkish political players to the betterment of Turkey today. He shared that the drive to change the current constitution of Turkey has not just been confined to the Parliament but the Turkish Parliament has involved citizens down to the village level to seek their input. Accountability of the military in Turkey by the AKP Government has been termed to be the greatest deterrent against future military interventions in Turkey.

Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA, Former Federal Minister of Defence, said that in order to understand democratic consolidation in Turkey, one must understand Turkish history. The secular ethos of Turkey, brought in by Kemal Ataturk, has largely defined Turkish history and the role of Turkish military in politics. Secularism and military both should not be this strong. Desire to join the EU, economic stability and political openness have stacked up to make Turkish story a success, he believed. Service delivery was recognised by Mr. Erdogan as the best model. Despite the party's religious moorings, the party has not started what he termed as talibanisation of the Turkish society, which is a critical lesson for Pakistan. Mr. Qamar said that a populist approach by Mr. Erdogan in foreign policy has begun to create rifts within Turkey's traditional allies in the Middle East. The current cracks appearing in Turkish polity, believed Mr. Qamar, have come about due to the desire to hold on to power by Mr. Erdogan. Both domestic and external forces will exploit those cracks. While Pakistan must learn from the good lessons Turkey has to offer; at the same time we should also learn from any mistakes that Turkey stumbles from, he added.

 
 

Ms. Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, said that the visit has provided her with an immense avenue of learning. Turkey's experience offers many useful lessons for Pakistan striving to consolidate democratic governance and effective management of civil-military relations. The study visit was timely. Both Pakistan and Turkey have entered a new phase of their respective political histories. The debate over the democratic reforms and dynamics of civil-military relations has become a permanent feature of political discourse in Pakistan and Turkey. She believed that convenience and electoral strategy, already a growing cause for concern, can undermine AKP's ability to be a party that can also lead Turkey in future and ensure a balanced, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA, said that the Turkish case is most relevant to Pakistan today as a democratic Government has moved to conduct a trial of a former military chief under article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan. He said that the principle of secularism in Turkey is what Pakistan needs to learn from, in addition to good economic and political management.

 
 

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh and former Federal Minister for Interior, said that the Turkish success at democratic consolidation shows the dividends of performance legitimacy. He said that there is a lot to learn from Turkeys' experience in the fields of political stability, Civil-Military Relations, Economic Reforms, Municipal Services and Quality Education. Having attained political stability, extensive economic reforms were undertaken in all sectors of economy. Turkish Political Parties are well organized and receive State funding according to the number of popular votes won in the elections. Political parties are linked to think tanks and have their own think tanks also.

Mr. Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary Interior, said that Islam as a religion has no role in State affairs in Turkey. The tide of the primacy of Turkish military in politics has been turned through Turkey's desire to join the EU and the economic management of the country under the AKP.

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Humayun Bangash, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey, said that while his thoughts are reflected in his paper on the subject, he must add that Turkey has seen tremendous progress, which has contributed to reversing the role of military in politics.

 
 

Welcoming the participants, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT, said that the Study Visit, which was conceived, designed and facilitated by PILDAT, was focussed at learning and interactions in Turkey on democratic consolidation and democratic civil-military relations in Turkey. He acknowledged with gratitude the very gracious facilitation of the Study Visit Programme by Pakistan's Ambassador to Turkey, H.E. Mr. Muhammad Haroon Shaukat and his team as well as Turkey's Ambassador to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Babur Girgin and his team.

 
 

The 16-member multi-party, multi-discipline Pakistan delegation was chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, (Islamabad-PML) and included Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA, Former Federal Minister of Defence, (NA-222 Hyderabad-V, Sindh, PPPP); Senator Farhatullah Babar, Former Spokesman President of Pakistan, (Khyber Pakhtukhwa-PPPP); Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, President National Party, (Balochistan, NP); Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, MNA (NA-173, D.G. Khan-III, Punjab, PML-N) and subsequently Chair of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs; Ms. Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, (NA-278, Punjab, PML-N); Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA, (NA-342, Non-Muslim-X, Sindh, PML-N); Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, Former Member of National Assembly; former Deputy Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan; Mr. Cyril Almeida, Senior Journalist; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Humayun Bangash, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh; Former Federal Minister for Interior; Mr. Shahid Malik, Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India; Mr. Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary Interior; Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist/ Analyst; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT.

 
 

Presenting an overview of the Study Visit, Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT, said that Turkey has made important strides towards creating a democratic balance of civil-military relations. The country's longest-serving prime minister since it became a democracy in 1950, Mr. Erdogan and his AK Party are key players in bringing about this change. Economic development, the resultant prosperity and a clean government have been the key indicators which have helped Mr. Erdogan win three successive elections with ever-increasing majorities. His coalition has included Islamists, nationalists, center-right voters and pro-business liberals. Mr. Erdogan has sway over the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as much of the media and business community. Many factors are ascribed to the "change" that has taken place in consolidating the primacy of the democratically-elected civilians in Turkey. The 'gradual change' brought about by Turkey's desire to join the European Union, the change in Turkish society with opening up and diversification in media, corporate and business, a more aware citizenry have all contributed to democratic consolidation in Turkey. In terms of democratic civil-military relations, she said that perhaps the most instructive of all has been the trials and sentencing of the senior Turkish military officers which will contribute as a psychological deterrent against intervention of military in politics. Known as the Ergenekon trials, these have been based on a belief that there is a lingering "deep state," said to be a network of army officers, business leaders, secularists and arch-nationalists who seek to undermine and even overthrow elected governments. In the Ergenekon case, the administration of Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the "deep state" of conspiring to cause social unrest, which would then provoke a military coup. Since Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2002, hundreds of military officers - serving or retired - including Generals and former Chief of Staff have gone to jail in the process. While some circles in Turkey also question fairness of prosecution and trials, they also believe these have offered a turning point for the Turkish military by driving home the point that it will certainly be held accountable for any political adventure. This has, believed Turkish analysts, resulted in instilling self-control which is the most important control than any other, she shared.

Ms. Riaz said that as part of its interactions in Turkey, the Pakistan delegation called on H.E. Mr. Abdullah Gul, President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Mr. Cemil Cicek, Speaker, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, as well as H.E. Mr. Kemal Yardimci, Deputy Defence Minister of Turkey, while detailed meetings were held with the Chairpersons of the Plan and Budget and Defence Committees of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. In order to understand how the Turkish National Security Council works, especially after the changes incorporated by the ruling AKP on civilian supremacy on the military, the Pakistan delegation met with and was briefed by H.E. Mr. Muammer Turker, Secretary General of the National Security Council, and his team, at the offices of the Turkish NSC. Pakistan delegation also engaged in a candid conversation on civil-military relations in Turkey and prospects of Pak-Turkish cooperation with leading Turkish think tanks including the Turkish Asian Centre for Strategic Studies (TASAM), The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and the International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK). The Pakistan delegation also visited the Headquarters of the ruling AKP, as well as that of the principal opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP) where the delegation was briefed respectively by the Deputy Chairman of the AKP, H.E. Dr. Muzaffar «akar and the Chairman CHP H.E. Mr. Kemal KiliÁdaro?lu. The delegation also interacted with the Chair and members of the Saadet (Felicity) Party. A comprehensive briefing on Turkish journey towards democratic civil-military relations was given to the Pakistan delegation by Prof. Dr. Ersel Ayd?nl?, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Bilkent University, Ankara.

 
 

8 papers and reports carrying learnings and lessons from Turkey have been published by PILDAT and were disseminated at the Public Forum. These include the following:

  1. Civilian-Military Relations: Dynamics and Challenges by Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, MNA (NA-173, D.G. Khan-III, Punjab, PML-N) http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/Civilian-MilitaryRelations_DynamicsandChallenges_TurkeyStudyVisitReport.pdf
  2. Democracy and Civil Military Relations by Ms. Shaista Pervaiz Malik, MNA, (NA-278, Punjab, PML-N) http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    DemocracyandCivilMilitaryRelations_TurkeyStudyVisitReport.pdf
  3. Success of Turkish Democracy and Civil Military Relations by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA, (NA-342, Non-Muslim-X, Sindh, PML-N) http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    SuccessofTurkishDemocracyandCivilMilitaryRelations.pdf
  4. Turkey: Factors leading to Civilian Control over the Military by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Humayun Bangash, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    TurkeyFactorsLeadingtoCivilianControlovertheMilitary_Report.pdf
  5. Turkey's Era of Political and Economic Stability by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Moinuddin Haider, Former Governor Sindh; Former Federal Minister for Interior http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    TurkeyEraofPoliticalandEconomicStability_StudyVisitReport.pdf
  6. Democratic Consolidation in Turkey by Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary Interior http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    DemocraticConsolidationinTurkey_TurkeyStudyVisitReport.pdf
  7. The Mysteries of Turkey by Ghazi Salahuddin, Senior Journalist http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/
    TheMysteriesofTurkey_StudyVisitReport.pdf
  8. Civil Military Relations and Democratic Consolidation in Turkey http://www.pildat.org/publications/publication/CMR/Civil-MilitaryRelationsandDemocraticConsolidationinTurkey-StudyVisitReport.pdf