There seem to be two opinions about both the recent Turkish military coup attempt and the reaction of the Turkish people among Pakistanis, depending on one’s position on the political spectrum. That position also seems to dictate whether or not one supports a military coup, and whether one looks on the Turkish attempt as indicating the chances of success of a coup in Pakistan.

Supporters of the Nawaz government would argue that the coup attempt in Turkey was foiled by the people. Opponents argue that the coup failed because it was not sanctioned by the service chiefs, to the extent that the coup-makers had to kidnap the Chief of General Staff, who was an Erdogan appointee, who remained loyal.

Also, opponents say, Pakistanis won’t resist, just as they had not resisted in the four times the military had taken over before. On the other hand, Pakistanis have distributed sweets whenever the military has taken over.

There has been some talk of the quality of governance, but this is not so much a double-edged sword, as a multiple-edged one. Every government removed by the military has been accused of poor governance. So has Erdogan’s in Turkey. Another line of attack has been corruption. Erdogan’s cabinet members are among the accused in a major corruption scandal, and if Mian Nawaz Sharif’s children are accused of being named in the Panama Leaks, Erdogan’s son Bilal was actually arrested for money laundering in Italy this February. Yet as Prime Minister, Erdogan was rated very highly for his economic success. He has been accused as illiberal and with a strong power drive, and has often found himself in conflict with the military.

There seems a similarity with Mian Nawaz, whose support base is also conservative, and who has problems with the military. There is the difference that while Nawaz was himself overthrown, Erdogan’s political mentor, Necmettin Erbakan, was. Erdogan was also more energetic in pursuing the Energekon trials, in which ex-President Kenan Evren was among hundreds of officers sentenced for the coup that brought him to office. On the other hand, Mian Nawaz did put ex-President Pervez Musharraf on trial for high treason, but the case has petered out, especially since General Musharraf went abroad. Evren too was reprieved, being acquitted along with all others, after the Ergenekon accused were acquitted on appeal. In both cases, coup-makers were not given any punishment, making it a possibility that the present military leadership could carry out coups.

Both Turkey and Pakistan have been coup-prone. However, the latest Turkish case seems more like one of the gritos (shouts) which afflicted the Spanish world, and the last of which was witnessed in Spain itself in 1981, when a colonel of the Guardia Civil held the Chamber of Deputies hostage for a day, when it had convened to elect a new Prime Minister. It should not be forgotten that Turkey is also facing instability in the office of Prime Minister, with Erdogan himself having moved up to the Presidency, and his replacement, Ahmet Davotoglu, having only recently himself been replaced by incumbent Benali Yildrim. Though Mian Nawaz has been in office continuously since the 2013 poll, his prolonged absence abroad, where he had gone for a quadruple bypass, created an apparent vacuum which heated an already tense atmosphere.

One of the major differences between Pakistan and Turkey is that Pakistan is not an applicant for membership of the European Community; Turkey is. It is worth noting that while Erdogan appeals to his conservative Anatolian voter base by his reversal of the Kemalist ideology, which opposed traditional Islam, he has also pursued the European project with great zeal. His recent deal with the EU, which sees him accept money and free movement in Europe for Turks, in exchange for helping stop Syrian refugees get into the EU, is a sign of his commitment to Europe. A coup would prevent Turkey joining. The EU might be vulnerable after Brexit, so Turkey’s joining would be needed, but in Europe seeking excuses to keep it out, a Turkey which was under military rule would not stand a chance of being admitted.

Then there is another major difference. The Turkish military is a conscript force; the Pakistani is all-volunteer. The former makes it difficult to carry out coups, because the conscripts regard their military service as a blip in their lives, just before they get on with their actual lives at jobs or in higher education. The latter means that the military has been adopted as a career that will occupy a large part of one’s working life, and they will look to their service to help them find employment after retirement. The corollary is that where militaries consist mainly of conscripts, coups may not always be carried out, because conscripts may disobey, or obey only reluctantly, the flagrantly illegal orders that are issued in a coup. On the other hand, regulars will obey whatever orders their superiors give. The superiors control future promotions, and thus their entire careers, after all. Though Turkish Army tanks moved out, they proved an empty threat. They did not shoot.

There is no guarantee that the military in Pakistan will be so forbearing. This might explain why the people of Pakistan have no history of resisting military coups. It should not be forgotten that the militaries are inheritors of opposing traditions. The Turkish military was beaten in World War I by the British, with Indian soldiery serving as part of those forces. The Pakistan Army lays claim to that heritage. Then both militaries were heavily influenced by the US military, the Turkish military more so. Both were members of two of the pacts that the USA threw around the USSR; Turkey of NATO and CENTO; Pakistan of CENTO and SEATO.

One respect in which Turkey has given the USA full support has been in the way it has supported it against the Islamic State, by allowing its planes to use Incirlik Airbase. (Incidentally, this permission was suspended with the coup attempt, as the Benali government imposed a no-fly zone over the country.) However, there is a difference. While Erdogan wants the Assad regime removed in Syria, he is not so desperate to stop Daesh that he is willing to promote Kurdish parties. It should not be forgotten that the USA, blithe about the Kurdish issue, is willing to see Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian and Turkish Kurds all break off so long as the Kurds help them fight Daesh. Complicating the situation is the fact that the main Turkish opposition gets Kurdish votes, and that the military is perhaps more hawkish against them than the government.

The unexplained factor is that of Fethullah Gulen. Gulen was first an Erdogan supporter, but that preacher’s rift has been behind Erdogan’s constantly blaming him for whatever goes wrong. To accept that Gulen has any influence in the Turkish military is to accept that a religious movement analogous to the Tablighi Jamaat has had an effect among the Turkish officer corps. The Pakistani officer corps has had that influence purged, but is capable of carrying out a coup on its own behalf without recourse to any Tablighi-sort movement or Gulen-type figure (Imran? Tahirul Qadri? Ch Shujaat?) to give it credibility.

Gulen responded with denial, instead counter-accusing Erdogan of instigating the coup. One result of this has apparently been the request by Erdogan to Mian Nawaz Sharif to close down the Gulenist schools in Pakistan. Maybe not just the Pakistan Army, but also the country’s judiciary, should note that the Erdogan government responded by thousands of arrests of officer and judges.