DAYS AFTER Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concern over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and compared the “struggle” of the Kashmiri people with his country’s fight against foreign domination during World War I, the government on Monday summoned Turkey’s Ambassador Sakir Özkan Torunlar and issued a strong demarche.
In a sharply worded statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Erdogan’s remarks reflected “neither an understanding of history nor of the conduct of diplomacy” and would have “strong implications” on India’s ties with Turkey.
The MEA’s official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said India rejected Turkey’s repeated attempts to justify the cross-border terrorism “practised so blatantly” by Pakistan.
“India has made a strong demarche with the Turkish government on the remarks made by President Erdogan on the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir during his recent visit to Islamabad. These remarks reflect neither an understanding of history nor of the conduct of diplomacy,” Kumar said in a statement.
He said Erdogan’s remarks “distorted” events of the past to advance a “narrow minded” view of the present. “This recent episode is but one more example of a pattern of Turkey interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. India finds that completely unacceptable,” Kumar said.
Throwing his weight behind Islamabad on the Kashmir issue, Erdogan had made these comments during an address to a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament on Friday.
“Events that happened a hundred years ago in Çanakkale in Turkey are being repeated in Indian occupied Kashmir and Turkey will continue to raise its voice against the oppression… Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you (Pakistan),” he had said. “No distance can build a wall between the hearts of believers. If there is torture against any believers in the world, it’s our duty to help them.”
Referring to Kashmir multiple times in his address, Erdogan had said: “Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times… The Kashmir issue can be resolved not through conflict or oppression but on the basis of justice and fairness. Such a solution will serve the interests of all parties concerned. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue in the resolution of the Kashmir issue… Like in the past, we will continue to support Pakistan in the future”.
“We applaud Pakistan’s efforts to rid this region from terrorism. The country has been affected by terrorism. Pakistan and Turkey are the countries that have been most affected by terrorism due to their geographic location… we will continue to cooperate with Pakistan on counter-terrorism,” he had said.
“I also want to emphasise that we will give support to Pakistan which is subject to political pressure in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meetings,” he had said.
While Erdogan raised the Kashmir issue during his address at the United Nations in September last year, this is the first time that the MEA has publicly summoned Turkey’s envoy since J&K’s special status under Article 370 was revoked on August 5.
On Saturday, the government had rejected references to J&K by Erdogan and the Turkey-Pakistan Joint Declaration. “India rejects all references to J&K, which is an integral and inalienable part of India. We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India’s internal affairs and develop proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region,” the MEA had said.
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