Happy new year, homies. We start 2017 with the unfortunate demise of Turkey, which has been destroyed by its own hysteric drive against the Kurds. It is deeply mutilated and finished in every respect. A country that was once a throbbing tourist haven, the envy of its neighbours, and a beacon of stability between Europe and the Middle East, has swiftly transformed into a lethal death hole thanks to its insurgents, or as many believe, the covert actions of its insane quasi-dictator Erdogan, in a bid to retain power. It is scary that Erdogan is the sole arbiter for many political decisions, and most policymaking hinges on his ideas, whims and fancies. Turkish leaders are too selfish to change course, the opposition is too weak, the citizens too scared.
The country’s deteriorating relationship with Russia, one of its biggest markets, hasn’t helped its cause either. Visitor numbers have briskly tumbled, tour operators are either pulling out or folding, several countries have issued travel warnings against Turkey, social media remains blocked, the lira is in freefall mode, investors are running away because of the erosion of the rule of law, and the country is reeling under the after effects of political instability and continuous terror strikes.
In my previous column, I had written about the cold-blooded murder at point blank range of the Russian envoy in an Ankara art gallery. Last week, an assassin disguised as Santa, used his Kalashnikov rifle to indiscriminately gun down unsuspecting revellers at a night club on the eve of the new year. The day before, armed gunmen opened fire at a restaurant in Istanbul, injuring two. The country has been a witness to a spate of bloody attacks since mid-2015, including one at the Ataturk airport, a failed uprising in July, and numerous rocket attacks, car bombs, truck bombs, suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices left in refuse bins, crowded areas and on public transport, across the country. The incidents have been linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Kurdish militant groups, PKK and TAK.
With Turkey’s parliament voting in favour of extending the emergency rule by a further three months, what is evident is that nothing in Turkey is clearing out revellers.
1) Despite much talk that PIA would be suspending its services to India in light of the border incidents, I realised that the airline hasn’t practised what was proclaimed when I sighted one of its ageing Airbus aircraft perched in Mumbai a few days back. Similarly, Pakistani exhibitors whose ego got the better of them when they impulsively imposed a blanket ban on Bollywood movies, appear to have set aside the ban suddenly and are busy soliciting Hindi movies to keep their cinemas alive. Anyone with two grey cells will know what to make of this.
2) On November 8, Narendra Modi asked Indians for “50 days of pain to deliver the India of their dreams”. Most of India was sold to his utopian idea of demonetisation. More than 50 days later, it’s only the pain we’re left with.
3) Caught a short video of Mariah Carey’s New Year’s performance in Times Square. Google it if you can. To call it a monumental disaster, would be an understatement. Carey claims the event was a sabotage, as the producers let her perform with a broken earpiece. She stumbled through her short performance failing to sing for most of it, despite a pre-recorded track. As she walked off the stage embarrassed, she may have well bid adieu to her singing career, the final victim of 2016.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2017.