By : Shabana Ayaz
Yesterday in Istanbul,
Turkey, the local representative of the ruling AK Party, Noory Moslu, who has been associated with President Tayyip Erdogan’s party for the past 22 years, invited me to her home for tea. This was my second meeting with her. I was highly impressed with her excellent manners and hospitality.
In the conversation between us, where other issues were discussed, there was also a detailed discussion on the problems faced by Pakistanis regarding living in Turkey. Noory Moslu said that because of the criminal activities of Afghan citizens, Turkish people started to dislike foreigners living here. However, Turkish people loved people from all Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. She said that the people who support President Tayyip Erdoğan love Pakistan. They use this proverb “When the name of Pakistan is mentioned. The water stops flowing.” After that, everything becomes meaningless.)
The current leadership of Turkey has made its people believe that Pakistanis had generously helped them in the Turkish independence war. Even Pakistani women gave their jewelry to the Turks. Noory Moslu, expressing gratitude, told me that we had not forgotten the spirit of sacrifice of Pakistan to date.
The way the people of Pakistan reached out to help Turkey in the recent earthquake disaster in Turkey is commendable. It is not uncommon for foreigners to come to Turkey’s peaceful and beautiful land for sightseeing and then stay here. That is why millions of people go and live in Turkey every year.
Let me tell you here. There are two main procedures for the residence of foreigners in Turkey. One of the ways for people who want to settle here is to get a residence permit called a temporary resident card (TRC).
Another way is to acquire Turkish citizenship.
By early 2022, the law required a property worth $250,000 to qualify for citizenship. According to the decision of the Turkish cabinet meeting, Turkish citizenship has been increased from $250,000 to $400,000. Turkish law states this property cannot be sold for three years.
This investment amount is held for three years in Turkish lira reserves and Turkish lira-denominated government debt instruments. It is determined by the Central Bank—citizenship Supervision to oversee the citizenship process.
A study by Turkstat, a Turkish statistics institute, revealed that nearly two million foreigners are buying homes in Turkey. With such a large number, obtaining Turkish citizenship has become challenging.
Apart from citizenship
In order to stay legally in Turkey, it is necessary to issue a residence permit (Kimlik). Kimlik used to be obtained and when those two years were completed, then the card was issued for the next two years. But now this cycle has been stopped. Now foreigners living in rented houses do not have Kimlik cards. Foreigners living in rented houses have gone back to their countries.
Now foreigners must buy a house worth $75,000 for a residence permit.
Based on the house purchased for residence, the owner of the house gets Kimlik for two years but other members of the house only for one year or six months. There is a lot of delay in the implementation of the application given for obtaining Kimlik card. Especially Pakistanis are issued with a lot of delay. The reason for this is that foreigners, especially citizens of Afghanistan and Pakistan, are not welcome in Turkey.
Apart from pro-government people, other people strongly dislike foreigners living in Turkey. This is the reason why these people in the immigration office keep the files of Pakistani and other foreigners especially for the slightest reason. Neither give any information nor cooperate. The card is issued one or two months before the card expires. This happened to me, I had applied for the card for two years but I got the card approved for one year and after eight months I got the Kimlik card. I had four months to go to Pakistan and come back to Turkey to apply again.
(Can’t travel abroad until the card is received)
There are reasons behind all these strictness and restrictions. Turkey has seen an alarming increase in the number of illegal immigrants for the past few years, mainly from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, with the desire to enter Europe. Apart from pro-government people, other people strongly dislike foreigners living in Turkey. This is why these people in the immigration office keep the files of Pakistani and other foreigners, for the slightest reason. Neither give any information nor cooperate. The card is issued one or two months before the card expires. As happened to me, I applied for the card for two years, but I got the card approved for one year, and after eight months, I got the Kimlik card. I had four months to come to Pakistan and apply again.
The number of Afghans from Afghanistan has exceeded 400,000 in Istanbul alone. Most of them are involved in the heinous crime of kidnapping for ransom, and the scary thing is that the victims cannot register these crimes because the victims Most of them are illegal immigrants. There have also been cases where videos of gruesome torture were sent to the kidnapper’s parents in custody, and huge ransoms were demanded. The ransom money was received in Greece or Italy, revealing their network spread in different countries.
These Afghans know that even if they are arrested, they cannot be punished because the Turkish government does not have any record of the victims (immigrants), nor can they file a police complaint against them. So, they have become a big mafia while receiving ransom money and are running a crime network in different countries. More than 400,000 criminal-minded, drug-trafficking, and arms-wielding Afghans with extensive networks around the world are roaming in Turkey, which is highly undesirable and terrifying for the Turkish people. These people are very angry with their government and demand that these people should not be allowed to enter or stay in the country.
On the other hand, at the beginning of the last year, 2022, Pakistani youths tried their best to defame the name of Pakistan with their indecent acts. These obscene youths made immoral videos of Turkish girls without permission and made vulgar remarks about them. Uploaded on Tik Tok and other social media sites, the forces that consider Pakistan-Turkish friendship as the biggest obstacle in their way took full advantage and started a trend on Twitter against Pakistan, “Pakistani Get Out,” which lasted for several days. Meanwhile, the news of the kidnapping of two Nepali citizens by some Pakistanis was prominently presented in the media.
This campaign aims to create chaos, hatred, and incitement by hostile elements in Turkey to influence the 2023 elections. Zafar Party, a political party in Turkey, started demanding the deportation of Pakistani citizens, which was given significant coverage by anti-Pakistan media. These elements have also launched a campaign to send back Syrian refugees.
Political parties opposed to President Tayyip Erdogan have expressed opposition to allowing foreigners to live in Turkey. That is why there is a strong dislike for foreigners mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan. The Turkish government is taking strict measures against foreigners to avoid the people’s grief in the 2023 elections.
According to Turkey’s Directorate of Migration Management’s weekly illegal immigration report, 1789 illegal immigrants were apprehended, and 1987 illegal immigrants were deported from Turkey between February 17 and 23, 2023. From the New Year to February 23, 2023, 16,729 illegal immigrants were repatriated, of which 5,488 were from Afghanistan, 1,155 were from Pakistan, and 10,086 were from other nationalities. Despite all these people who support President Tayyip Erdogan still love Pakistan. This is why Noory Moslu gave me a lot of love and respect as a Pakistani.