In an interview Haqqani said Erdogan’s approach was reminiscent of Pakistan’s military dictator between 1978 and 1988, Zia ul-Haq. Like Zia, Erdogan has instituted legal and societal reforms to further Islamize society. In January, for example, he instituted a new plan to pour government money into Islamic schools.
“Erdogan has taken the Pakistani formula of mixing hard-line nationalism with religiosity,” Haqqani said. “Zia imposed Islamic laws by decree, amended the constitution, marginalized secular scholars and leaders, and created institutions for Islamization that have outlasted him. Erdogan is trying to do the same in Turkey.”
The clearest parallel with Pakistan is Turkey’s current approach to the war in Syria. In January, Erdogan launched a new offensive against America’s Kurdish allies in Afrin. Even though the Turks have worked against the regime in Damascus, during the first weeks of that offensive they actually coordinated with their erstwhile adversaries in Syria.