It has assiduously avoided taking sides in the region’s rivalries and backed efforts to defeat the Islamic State
DIPLOMATIC discourse in difficult situations demands difficult choices and moves. India did that during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit amid questions why the visit was taking place at all.
Aware of Turkey’s support to Pakistan and stand on Kashmir, it deflected the visitor’s eve-ofthe-visit offer made on an Indian TV channel of “being involved” in the dispute, by emphasising that this had better remain a bilateral issue. Turkey, too, has its Kurdish issue.
Before Erdogan arrived, Indian Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari was in Armenia and Cyprus President Nicos Anastsiasdes was in Delhi, both having territorial disputes with Turkey. The Cypriot, indeed, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “speak” to Erdogan. Modi evidently did not. Although nothing dramatic happened during the Erdogan visit, somewhat lowered expectations were met. India was unruffled when Erdogan referred to Maoist violence in India, but omitted Kashmir, yet endorsed India’s fight against terrorism.
The four-way diplomacy succeeded as not territorial or ideological disputes and rhetoric, but economic ties grabbed the upper hand. This is pushing an established trend that places national interests and national security above all else.
If Turkey’s Sufism melted with India’s Bhakti movement in olden times, nobody is talking about it now. Erdogan was conferred an honorary doctorate at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, symbolically in the hall named after M.R. Ansari, who had led a medical mission to Turkey in the last century.
Like symbolisms, personal equations matter. A low-key Manmohan Singh and a selfietaking Modi have both worked on building equations.
Having the world’s thirdlargest Muslim population, a Hindu-majority