Pakistan forms a new unholy alliance

10/29/2019

Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia have formed an unofficial alliance which they hope will be backed, at least tacitly, by some rich Muslim nations as they step up maligning of India and its Kashmir policy. The potential of this unholy alliance to cause any noticeable harm to India may be limited but their effort can add to irritants that India faces on the global stage.
Turkey and Malaysia have just provided the badly needed life-line to Pakistan at the Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and thwarted the chance of Pakistan sliding from the grey list to the black list despite Pakistan’s failure to end terror financing and money laundering by terrorists. Of course, the greatest support to Pakistan came from China which presided over the FATF meeting.
Expectedly Malaysia’s diatribe invited a sharp reaction from India which is considering lowering the import of palm oil from that country. If the Indian threat does take shape, Malaysia stands to substantially lose a lucrative market that has been traditionally the largest importers of its palm oil. Malaysia’s loss will be its neighbour Indonesia’s gain.

A worried Malaysia has announced that it is considering increasing import of sugar and other commodities from India to balance the trade surplus it has with India. But the important point to note is that Mahathir Mohammed has not softened his anti-India stand that was evident when he accused India of ‘invading’ and ‘occupying’ Kashmir in his September speech at the UN General Assembly.
Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been more upfront in taking anti-India stance which is a natural corollary to the ties he has forged with Pakistan. India paid him back handsomely by condemning its invasion into Syria to kill the Kurds.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan conveying his desire to acquire nuclear capabilities/warheads, speculation is ripe of Turkey being the final cog in the infamous ‘nuclear proliferation nexus’ led by A Q Khan, besides Iran, Libya and North Korea. In the 1980s, Turkey facilitated importing materials from Europe and redirecting American centrifuges to Pakistan in the latter’s quest for nuclear weapons. The burgeoning relations between the two countries are led more by their nuclear connection, and less by religious affinity. This explains Erdogan’s anti-India stance.
While India’s ties with Malaysia have been close in the past, interactions with Turkey have been few and far between. Not just because of its 6 per cent population of Indian origin, Malaysia is not likely to distance itself from India the way Turkey can. But then it also seems to be moving away from India. The protection Malaysia has offered to radical Islamist Zakir Naik is a case in point.

The Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, announced during his visit to the UN last month, where defying the time allotted to him he delivered a venomous anti-India speech, that three countries would be starting a global Islamic TV channel. Needless to say the main purpose of the new channel will be to spread poison against the perceived ‘enemies’ of Islam, and India being the prime one in the eyes of Pakistan.
Turkey and to some extent Malaysia were till recently considered to be ‘moderate’ Islamic nations. Pakistan’s claim to that tag lasted till Gen Zia-ul-Haq took over the country in the 1980s after a coup and set the ball of rapid Islamisation of the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim-majority country rolling. Radicalization has spread fast in Pakistan with considerable backing of the anti-India ‘establishment’—both the civilian government and the powerful army.
When Tayyip Erdogan came to power in Turkey, among the first things he did was to repudiate the country’s secular character, which, interestingly, was sustained with the help of the army for decades.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society where Muslims constitute over 60 per cent of the population. Racial tensions among the majority Muslims and ethnic Chinese and Indians have existed long but they have become more prominent in the last few years. The Chinese and the largely Hindu Indian community are discriminated against. Many Hindus have complained of forcible conversion and government’s inaction. Both, the previous Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and the present one, Mahathir bin Mohammed, are advocates of Islamisation.
Details of the proposed English language Islamic channel are not known but it is quite likely that its headquarters will be in Pakistan which will ensure that it serves the Pakistani agenda well. In the event of Pakistan dominating the administration of the new channel, it will also become an unofficial propaganda arm of the government which is needed to counter the sometimes critical voices heard over the private media channels.
Turkey may not appear to be very suitable for locating the HQ of the proposed channel because Turkey has paucity of English-speaking journalists. Malaysia can pip Pakistan’s claim only by its money power which is decidedly better than Pakistan’s. Regardless of the structure of the proposed TV channel, it will excel in strident anti-India rhetoric. It is time for India to be active on the airwaves to checkmate Pakistani gambit. Manzoor Ahmed