What we witnessed in the wee hours of the 15th of July in Turkey was surprising to many. A faction of the Turkish military tried to take over the country in what we now know as a botched coup attempt. These military men claimed to have taken under their control of the country — the famous Bosphorus Bridge, Parliament building and other key installations were actually taken over by the putschists. But the fate has something unexpected for the coup-plotters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared on CNN Turk and asked people to resist the move. Upon his call, people from all walks of life took to the streets of Istanbul within no time and they were ready to offer even their lives for the sake of democracy. Even Erdogan’s arch-rivals, the Kurd who used to agree to disagree on “national issues,” stood up for safeguarding their democracy.
Brutal skirmishes were witnessed as tanks, jets and guns opened fire on unarmed civilians. But it could not deter them from their resolve that they would resist any attempt to dictate their future by the men in uniform. The people could not be pushed back with tanks, guns and jets. The Awaam proved that when they rise up, no power can stop them.
At the end of the day, the people of Turkey achieved a “remarkable victory” and what emerged as the ultimate winner was the Turkish democracy. The brave Turks proved that the “sovereign will” of the people cannot be subjugated and no one should dare to make a mockery of it. This whole episode, however, taught a lesson to the people of other countries across the globe: the unflinching will and resolve of the people has the power to annihilate any uncouth coup. For Pakistan, this message was, perhaps, the most relevant—for army and the civilians alike.
As the tide turned, those who were inviting the military through posters with the words “Khuda ke liye ab aajao” written on them disappeared as quickly as the soldiers in Ankara and Istanbul. The scenes of ordinary men whipping, flogging and ridiculing their own army cannot be soothing for anyone.
Unarmed civilians can foil any coup attempt by military and can make it stay away from toppling the government. It’s not the guns that matter; it’s the supreme will of the people that reigns supreme. Those suggesting army to take over and oust the incumbent government are actually tarnishing its image.
As long as the army sticks to its job of defending country’s borders, and plays its due role in national security, it will garner love and esteem from the people. Whenever army tries to encroach upon others’ domain, it is abhorred by majority of the nation and we have already seen it in the cases of Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.
On the other hand, the politicians have to understand that the people cannot be lured by mere rhetoric and slogans of democracy. The real fruits of democracy in form of good governance and economic development should reach to the common man. The ruling elite must come out of their comfort zones and must show their performance to the people.
To state the conclusion, it is pertinent to note that the real source of power is the people of the country. It is their will that sends politicians into the corridors of power. People will support them only if they deliver. The belief of ordinary citizen is sine qua non for democracy to institutionalize and consolidate.