Pakistan has ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers and their family members to leave the country by November 20, in a apparent move to ‘please’ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who starts his two-day visit to Islamabad on Wednesday. According to the interior ministry, the teachers of Pak-Turk schools have been asked to leave the country along with their family members within three days.
Some 108 Turkish teachers have been serving in the Pak-Turk Schools in the country. They along with their family members have been denied extension to their visas on the request of the Erdogan administration as these schools were run by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Erdogan blamed for July’s failed military coup.
The Pak-Turk Schools administration has expressed shock over the government’s decision which it believes has been taken under pressure.
“Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges are extremely concerned over the abrupt decision of the government,” said Pak-Turk Education Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Alamgir Khan.
“Since we have removed all Turkish principals with the Pakistanis and publicly announced that it has no connection with Gulen movement there has been no justification of this decision,” an official of the Pak-Turk Schools told PTI.
He said now these schools have been operating under a local NGO registered with the Pakistani government.
“However, these schools will remain functional under the Pakistani administration,” he said.
In August, Pakistan had promised Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that it would investigate the network of schools Ankara wanted shut for its alleged links with Gulen.
“It is not secret that Gulen’s organisation has institutions or their presence in Pakistan and in many other countries. I am sure the necessary measures will be taken. We have to be very careful with such organisations and their causing risk and threat for the security and stability of every country that they have presence,” Cavusoglu had said.
The network of Pak-Turk schools and colleges was launched in 1995 under the international NGO registered with the Turkish government.
“Initially funding was made from Turkey to establish state of art campuses in Pakistan. But for the last 15 years or so it is generating its own funds here, offering free education and boarding facilities to 35 per cent of the students besides awarding foreign scholarships to them,” the official said.
The chain of 28 schools and colleges is functioning in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. Some 11,000 students from pre-school to ‘A’ levels are studying there.