ISTANBUL: Despite vertical development across Turkey, the ordinary Turks are pessimistic about what Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised, especially after incarcerating thousands of his political rivals. Istanbulites are no different. Like Elif Shafak’s characters, they roam around the maze-like alleys with a strange aura of indifference towards the system. Those who hate Erdogan despise him a lot for taking the country away from Kemalist principles. Those who adore him have many reasons to do so. For instance, he placed a tacit ban on opening of new brothels compelling hookers to swarm the streets of Istanbul. There are cities within a city in Istanbul. The area around Sultan Ahmet and Grand Bazar represents conservative and orthodox society. Cross the Bosphorous, the whole world changes. Headscarves are replaced by miniskirts. Taksim Square is Turkish answer to Times Square. That part of Istanbul never sleeps. However, after war in Syria a number of refugee families can be seen sleeping over the giant steam exhausts. “It’s going to be very tough for us I think. There are more than two million refugees in Turkey. What can we do about it? Nothing,” exclaimed a student, Ziki. Children of Syrian refugees beg at Taksim Square. Istanbulites look down upon them as if they carry plague and would transmit to whoever talk to them. “Erdogan is no good. Development is just eyewash. We respect and love Fateh Gulen,” said a cabby, Jack Daniels. However, Erdogan knows how to appease the ordinary people. His support is the workers doing blue-collar jobs. They were the one who came out of their houses to thwart the military coup. Apparently, the ruling family in Pakistan follows the footsteps of Erdogan. They build metros and underpasses, issue bonds and mock at the opposition parties. While they do it, they are gradually pushing the country’s economic and political system over the edge. While Finance Minister Ishaq Dar receives ‘gallantry’ awards from dubious publications, leading economists paint a gloomy picture of the economy. Erdogan developed cordial ties with Sharifs primarily to help the Turkish construction and transport companies get their foothold in Pakistan. And after the botched coup in Turkey, Sharifs were elated for the reasons now no secret anymore. Whatever the relations between rulers of the two countries are, the ordinary Turks respects Pakistanis visiting or living there. “Jeeway Pakistan”, shouted a shopkeeper as he heard that this scribe was from the brotherly country.