The Turkish statement criticising India is likely to have been issued in coordination with Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan, the only country other than Xi Jinping’s China to have put out a statement on the first anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir’s new status in the Indian constitution. Erdoğan’s government did not make any reference to Pakistan’s new map that had been issued just hours earlier that counts Indian territories as its own.
In the past also, Erdoğan has gone out of his way to echo Imran Khan on Kashmir. Like in February this year, Erdoğan’s speech in the Pakistan National Assembly during his visit to Islamabad compared the “struggle of Kashmiris” with the Ottoman Empire’s fight during World War I. But this isn’t all that Ankara has been doing. An intelligence report on the role played by fronts for the Turkish government last month accused Ankara of efforts to radicalise Indian Muslims and recruit fundamentalists. Turkey had emerged as the “the hub of anti-India activities” next only to Pakistan.
A second report handed over to national security planners over the past week said fronts for the Turkish government or the outfits it supports, appeared to have made deeper inroads in India than assessed earlier. Much of this effort is directed via three sectors, Turkish state media, educational institutes and the nonprofit sector, or NGOs.
The intelligence assessment identified individuals and groups, some of them also suspected to be in touch with Pakistan’s ISI, who had been lured to work with entities in Turkey that had strong links with the Erdogan regime.
In particular, the report listed organisations that had started accelerating what it described as “lucrative scholarships” to Indians to study in Turkey. The report said, Turkey has been providing lucrative scholarships and running exchange programmes for Indian Kashmiri and Muslim students to study in Turkey through state-sponsored NGOs. Once the students land in Turkey, they are approached and taken over by the Pakistan proxies operating there.
The intelligence report also accused the Turkish Embassy in Delhi of forging alliances with Indian NGOs, pointing that Indian activists who serve Ankara’s agenda are increasingly being sent to Turkey on exposure trips and encouraged to speak against India. Actually, Erdogan supporters are tasked to build Erdogan’s image as the tallest leader of the Muslim community by championing the Islamic cause. Erdogan’s effort to expand its influence among South Asian Muslims comes against the backdrop of his pitch to challenge Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Islamic world and offering a conservative Turkey with Ottoman traditions as a model for Islamic nations to follow.