The defeat in World War I for Turkey, like other nations on the losing side, although resulted in a harsh peace treaty for the Ottoman Empire but Turkey was able to renegotiate the Treaty of Sèvres that stripped Turkey of all its European territory except for a small area around Constantinople now called Istanbul.
The Lausanne conference resulted in seventeen diplomatic instruments. The renegotiation of the terms laid down in Sèvres, later called Treaty of Lausanne in which Turkey recognized the loss of its Arab provinces, but plans for an independent Armenia and an autonomous Kurdistan were abandoned. The European powers no longer demanded capitulation, and although Turkey agreed to minor financial burdens and tariff restrictions, there were to be no war reparations. The Greeks lost their zone around İzmir, and no other powers retained zones of influence. Turkish territory in Europe expanded, but control over Mosul in Iraq and Alexandretta in Syria remained with the British and French respectively. Finally, the conference recognized Turkish sovereignty over the straits, although there were some concessions in the form of a demilitarized zone and an international commission to supervise transit through the straits. In short, İsmet İnönü the general and statesman, who later became the first president of Turkey after demolishing of the Ottoman Empire, achieved virtually all that nationalist Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s leadership desired. The treaty was ratified by Turkey on 23 August 1923 and will expire in February 2023.
In Pakistan, Turkish Drama Culture is not new, considering Turkish dramas have a huge audience around the globe and possess an extensive position in taking forward their Government’s stance. Dirilis Ertugrul has been the talk of the town, around the world and now in Pakistan as well, despite of previous Turkish dramas success in Pakistan, that had never stirred as much unrest among people in Pakistan than a show based on Islamic history has, thinking of it as a threat to country’s entertainment business and economy. The fifth Generation Warfare, that has been plain sailing until a show revolving around the strong faith and personality of a Muslim swept away all misrepresentations and manipulated image of Islam and its followers that was built over a period of decades. The drama consisting of five seasons, is based on 13th century Turks and the life of Ertugrul, son of Suleiman Shah, who paved the way for the foundation of the Ottoman Empire. The drama shows the medieval campaigns waged by Muslim Turks against Crusaders, the Byzantine army and Mongols and subsequent Muslims victories. The drama has far reaching popularity and took the international audience by storm. It is especially popular in the Middle East, Africa, America and Asia. It has been watched in more than 85 countries, in over 25 languages. The drama keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and it is a good entertaining series with a captivating storyline. Venezuela’s President Maduro is a fan as well and was seen wearing the hat of a Turkish warrior during his visit to Turkey.
From Pakistani political figures to entertainment media, people have been making remarks against the show proposing different reasons, varying from Pakistanis’ identity crisis to criticizing promoting foreign content, side-lining the local artists. Egypt Dar Al-Iftaa accused Turkey of trying to influence people of Middle East to revive the Ottoman Empire and regain sovereignty over Arab countries, which were previously under Ottoman rule. The drama is also popular in IOK. According to a report in Print India, “Dirilis Ertugrul” is traveling from one household to another in flash drives circumventing a government effort to stop local cable operators from contents produced by Muslim countries such as Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan.
The invocations made for content to be made at home with local talents and demanding a ban on the Turkish drama was unheard of when Indian content for forever was being broadcasted in Pakistan instead the only time it put audience in angst was when a year or so ago it was banned. Previous Turkish dramas success in Pakistan never caused a controversy. Not to mention, the Pakistani producers now grumbling over lack of latitude and never being given a chance to have made any show based on historical events of Muslims of subcontinent or in general were the first in line, standing in front rows applauding movies like ‘Padmavaat’ where Allauddin Khilji, a Turk, was portrayed as a savage contrary to historical facts and another hit in Pakistan titled “Panipat”, where Ahmed Shah Abdali, the founder of Durrani Empire in Afghanistan and the one who defeated the Maratha army, has been portrayed as barbaric and vicious. The appreciation for these movies and many other from Pakistan entertainment industry was immense. No Muslim country has stepped forward in order to tackle the hybrid warfare leash that has been growing tighter around Muslims’ neck with each passing day. Turkey, with his not only one but several series based on not only the history of Turks but mainly focusing on the true representation of what a real Muslim look like, is the first to globally intercept the issue, in a response to the Hollywood and Bollywood movies where Muslims are shown as bloodthirsty and barbaric. This is a brazen attempt to rewrite history and creating historical narratives to fit into RSS/BJP fascist ideology.
The drama “Resurrection of Ertugrul” has been banned in some of the countries of Middle East where it is being seen as Turkey’s quest to revive Ottoman Empire. PM Khan recommended broadcasting the Turkish series to Pakistani audience and according to him, it will make youth learn about Islamic values, history and ethics. The drama has broken popularity records in the country. The drama rightly glorifies Muslim heroes, Islamic history and ethics is spiritually motivational and enlightening, with maximum references been made of Quran and Hadith, stories of Prophet, and most significantly, from the life of the Holy Prophet (SAW). The fact the Prime Minister has backed the show with words and action may also speak to his own agenda in establishing Pakistan as a pre-eminent player in the Muslim world. He has clearly been very vocal about Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia being frontline in establishing themselves as leaders. Just like Erdogan’s stance of getting Turkish people ready for the change that is to come in 2023 as explained by the Turkish Defence Secretary Dr. Ismail Demir, for when the Treaty of Lausanne will end in 2023, Turkish people have to be educated, cultured and Muslim, and according to him, Turkey being a diverse nation is in urgent need of religion to tie everyone together, which is exactly what Imran Khan had in mind while recommending the series to Pakistani nation and broadcasting it on national television, a broader perspective to prime general public for a 100 years old plan of action, that many actors and politicians who are criticizing the series, being fallen victim to their myopic and little approach to world politics and history fail to acknowledge and especially in this case, a century old strategy. To the likes of Erdogan, Khan’s first front in establishing that goal seems to be cultural and taking control of the Muslim historical narrative.
Ahmer Naqvi a freelance cultural writer who sees Ertugrul as part of a wider agenda wrote:
“There is definitely an element of the Pakistani state pushing a certain idea of Islamic history, that focuses on conquest and expansionism and that has a long history of being used as propaganda,” he says.
“This push has come at the expense of even acknowledging the history of what is now settled Pakistan. So, you would know about Muslim general Salahuddin but not about Chanakya, who lived in settled Pakistan, so yes, there is valid concern that the state is pushing a wider history and not its own. In general, I would love to see the Pakistani state invest in its own cultural industries.”
A very honest and ostensible review as expected by average mind-sets, but not to forget that promoting and watching a Turkish series that depict Islamic culture does not make Pakistan forget or respect any of our sub-continental heroes any less. Particularly, considering Pakistan’s leadership’s history where even germane news are filtered out let alone a whole show produced, PM Khan himself made sure such a drama was broadcasted is a success in itself for Pakistan and in this case, when Muslim youth in particular need to be addressed and taught as well as Islamophobia subdued and crushed, a good job done now is better than a good job delayed or perished, paying little to no heed to where it is coming from, let it do the damage to adversary and serve the substantial tenet and Muslim brotherhood.
The Writer is Analyst, Social activist and a public speaker at youth conferences.