Afghanistan, Pakistan ambassadors to Turkey recall night of deadly putsch attempt
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the coup attempt on July 15 last year which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the coup, the foreign diplomats reflected on the night of the overthrow attempt that martyred 250 people and left over 2,000 others injured.
“Both young and aged people tried to convince troops on tanks; they used themselves as a shield against the tanks; it needs courage,” said Afghan Ambassador Amanullah Jayhoon. “[The] Turkish nation quenched the coup that night.”
Jayhoon learned of the coup attempt from television news reports at Ankara’s Esenboga International Airport, along with Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, who was scheduled to depart following special programs in Turkey’s capital.
“It was a terrible night,” Jayhoon said “I was at Esenboga Airport to see off our foreign affairs minister that evening. We saw [on television] that tanks were on a bridge in Istanbul,” he said. “We learned that it was a coup.”
He said a coup attempt was unexpected because Turkey has “a democratically elected government who clinched 50 percent of the public approval in the general election in late 2015.
“’So how can a coup attempt happen here?’ we asked ourselves.”
“Then we watched that the [state broadcaster] TRT announced the military had seized power. We truly felt very sad. Because we have long sufferings from military coups.”
He noted that the Afghan foreign minister was unable to depart that night as all flights were canceled.
“On our way back from the airport, we saw some movement in front of the TRT building” in Ankara’s Oran district, he recounted.
Jayhoon said that his 11-year-old girl was very frightened by the sound of fighter jets flying at low altitudes.
“She was crying, I tried to calm her down.”
He said Erdogan’s call for the public to take to the streets “showed his brave and fearless side”.
“After observing three things -- the determination of the people, braveness of the leader, and sacrifices of [people’s] own lives for their democracy -- I believed that Turkish people deserve this leader.
“Though the people won the fight that night, it was a terrible, severe night for us.”
He underlined that it was significant the situation was under control in less than 24 hours.
“Jets were flying, tanks, troops went out of the barracks, over 200 people martyred and everything turned into normal within one night,” he noted.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Ankara Sohail Mahmood applauded the courage and bravery of the Turkish people and their leadership.
“I was in Ankara. We initially noticed some low-flying aircraft in Ankara. Our residence is at a high altitude in the Cankaya neighborhood. We saw that it was quite unusual,” Mahmood remembered.
He called the coup attempt “deeply concerning,” explaining, “Because, God forbid, any such attempt, if it became successful, could have had very serious implications for stability in Turkey as well as stability in the region.
"That was a big threat to democracy."
Mahmood said Pakistan’s leadership was in communication with their counterparts, recalling that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “issued a very strong statement in support of the elected government and President Erdogan and also to the democratic institutions of Turkey”.
“Our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among the first leaders to call president Erdogan to express our strong solidarity with Turkey, its leadership, democratic institutions, and with the people of Turkey,” he noted.
The coup-plotters not only targeted the people on the streets but also “symbols of Turkish democracy,” according to the Pakistani diplomat.
Mahmood underlined that the most remarkable thing of that night was “the Facetime [app] call by President Erdogan to the people of Turkey”.
“We saw a remarkable transformation that night.
"All major towns and cities across Turkey were completely filled by people. Turkish people came out to defend democracy and not allow this coup attempt to succeed."
He stated that the struggle on the night of July 15, 2016, would be written in golden words.
“The people of Turkey established a new example” for the rest of the world, he added.