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Pakistan's search for identity: Why Imran Khan is promoting a Turkish TV serial

Pakistan is officially promoting a Turkish TV serial based on the semi-historical founder of Osmanian Caliphate in its quest for a pan-Islamic identity and mythical golden past.

May 23, 2020 / 08:10 AM IST

Pradeep Singh Gautam

What is Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan watching these days? Answer is Turkish TV series ‘Resurrection: Ertugrul’ in English or Ghazi Ertugrul in Urdu. Not only he himself is binging on it, he is also actively promoting it on social media and has asked PTV to run it as well. Following his lead many of his ministers and supporters are busy creating a buzz around this character of Ertugrul and the eponymous TV series. Khan is asking his countrymen to get inspiration from this character and learn about Pakistani identity, culture and tradition from him.

You may watch this short speech by Khan to get a first-hand idea.

It begets a question: who is Ertugrul and why is he being ‘resurrected’? Why all of a sudden Khan is asking his countrymen to identify with this Turk who was unknown to most Pakistanis sometime back? To attempt an answer, let's go back nearly a 100 years. During the First World War (1914-1919), Turkey under Ottoman Empire, ostensibly to protect its imperialist interests, fought alongside Germany and against the Allied Powers like Britain and Russia. Ottoman Empire lost the war and this led to the emergence of modern Turkey as we know it today.