ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said that closure of Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan under the Gulen network could be disastrous for the country.

Khan’s statement was in apparent response to Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Sadik Babur Girgin’s press conference with newsmen on Friday, in which he said that Ankara had asked all friendly nations, including Pakistan, to prevent activities of the Gulen group.

In a tweet, the PTI chief said: “While we stand firmly behind Turkish democracy, closing Pak-Turk schools in Pak, which has a high illiteracy rate, could be disastrous”.

As many as 21 schools in Pakistan are being run by Turkey’s Gulen Movement, a group which has been blamed for last week’s failed coup attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Another entity, Rumi Forum, is also controlled and run by the same Turkish organisation.

Gulen is the exiled Turkish preacher who allegedly masterminded last week’s failed Ankara coup, according to the Turkish government. Since a 2013 falling out with President Erdogan, with whom he was in a political alliance at the time, he has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, from where he runs a vast international network of schools and seminaries.