All around the world, there is no better option than keeping the channel of dialogue open. If we contribute towards global peace, we can get a very positive result." Those words, beyond reproach as they are, especially if seen in pure terms minus the surrounding complications of context, were spoken by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before his ongoing visit to India. The name itself might help offer the first layering of disquieting context. The world has no dearth of leaders capable of filling the media with sanctimony while their actions belie their words.
Turkey under Erdogan is at a fairly safe distance from being any sort of paragon of democracy. No one on any side of the political spectrum would dispute the general consensus of him being one of the arch exemplars of a certain kind of lurch in polity visible all over the world of late. Independent political audits are full of statistics—since the July 2016 coup attempt, 1,34,194 people have been dismissed from public and private sector jobs, and 95,458 detained across Turkey. Freedom of the press is in crisis across what were once democratic spaces; Turkey would be right up there among the defaulters.
Then there is Cyprus, Turkey’s own dubious entanglement in Syria vis-a-vis support to the rebels (who come in various Islamist shades), not to speak of the fate of the stateless people across those Levantine-Arab borders, the Kurds. The reason why Erdogan’s philanthropic intent, vis-a-vis Kashmir for which he has offered to be a facilitator of “multi-lateral dialogue”, does not wash. Yet, there are sobering lessons for New Delhi in receiving this unsolicited offer. Recently, China has let go of a taunt or two on Kashmir, and Trump (of all people) too has offered his good offices. The lesson is this: Political disputes can be bilateral or trilateral in strict terms. If we wish to keep away meddlers, finding a solution to the Kashmir issue on our own will be paramount.