Liberty is one of the uncontested value of the modern world. Liberty and freedom are important on every level and on individual, societal and national. Liberty does not mean that you do not follow a system but it means choosing which system to follow. On the national level, the democracy provides the people with a choice. It provides people the opportunity to choose their leaders. The best thing about democracy is that if the leaders fail to deliver on their promises, it allows you to make a better choice next time. But not everyone agrees with the concept of government by the people, of the people and for the people.
There are several countries which have seen army coupes. Pakistan is not a stranger to the martial law. The army coups in Pakistan started in 1958. After that, there have been three successful army coups in Pakistan. Pakistan has spent so many decades under the rule of the army that the democracy never had a chance to grow and nourish. Even today the danger and fear of an army coup are always present. The recently failed army coup in Turkey has raised several questions in the minds of Pakistanis. The Pakistanis followed the proceedings of the coupe and it will not be wrong to say that it surprised several people as the coupe failed to stand in front of the power of people. The Turkish people were not very keen to let go of their democracy and they managed to save it.
Now if there rises the same situation in Pakistan, would thousands rush to the streets to save the Nawaz government? There is a lot to skepticism of whether people would stand with Nawaz government like the Turkish people stood with president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The skepticism is not wrong and here is why:
1. It needs a dynamic leader to make people come on street and put their lives at risk. As soon as the events in Turkey started to unfold, the President Erdogan issued a message for the people. People responded to his call when he asked them to come to streets because their leader was not absent from the scene. He even appeared in Istanbul and gave a live TV speech. Now people will not be in a rush to distraught an army coup in Pakistan because our Prime Minister has failed to show people that he is with the nation through thick and thin. He is hardly seen on normal days.
2. Trust cannot be forced and it has to be earned. The government in Pakistan has done nothing to earn the trust of people. They have not bothered to fulfil their promises. Turkey, however, has changed a lot since President Erdogan and his party came in power. The economy has flourished and Tukey has a much better position in world’s politics then it had before.
3. If a leader wants the people to put their life at risk and stand up for him, then it is important that he does that himself too. Erdogan earned the trust of people when he stood up against the powerful military. He ensured the loyalty of the senior officers because he himself was the first to stand up to the military rule. This has not happened in Pakistan. It was the Nawaz government which was thrown during the 1999 army coup in Pakistan. The leaders then failed to make a stand and ran by making deals. The leaders lived in palaces and enjoyed luxury life until it was safe for them to return. People do no risk their life for someone who is not willing to fight himself.
4. The economic condition of Pakistan does not seem to get any better. Regardless of what achievements the government tries to fool people with, the truth is that Pakistan has a total Rs. 55 trillion foreign debt. That is just the foreign debt. There are also 131 billion rupees in domestic debt as well. This shows that our leaders lie to us all the time and they have done nothing to earn our trust.
5. Turkey like Pakistan is no stranger to the army coups. But for almost 18 years, the leadership of Erodgan has kept the nation stable. The nation has not just been stable but it has improved immensely. He lifted the ridiculous bans like the ban on headscarves, he cleared the debt of the country, gave the country a respectable voice in world politics and strengthened the democracy. He showed people that democracy is better than the dictatorship. But in Pakistan, whether it’s democracy or dictatorship, the state or the quality of living of people does not change. Our leaders fail to show us the beauty of democracy so it is unlikely that people would resist to an army coup in Pakistan.
6. The people would not stand by Nawaz government in case of martial law because he simply has not earned it. It needs actions along with words to earn the respect of people. Empty words and promises are worthless.
Let’s hope that our leaders and our nation learn something useful from the Turkish People and their leaders.