ISLAMABAD -Just a day before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the interior ministry has asked the Turkish staff of Pak-Turk schools and colleges to leave the country by Nov 20.
Estranged by the decision, the management of the educational network on Tuesday expressed concern over the “abrupt move” and assured the students and parents involved that it stood firmly against any proposal for “ingress of some other organisation into the teachers and staff of the schools”.
A senior official of the interior ministry said the visas of the educational chain’s staff had been cancelled and that letters had been sent to them on Sunday, informing them that they had only one week to leave the country. The decision was in line with the advice of the foreign affairs ministry.
The number of teachers and other Turkish staff in the chain’s 28 schools and colleges stood at 108 and the total number of their family members at about 400, the official said.
In August, Pakistan had promised Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu that it would look into affairs of the chain Ankara wanted to be closed for its alleged links with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen in the aftermath of Turkey’s botched coup.
The network of Pak-Turk schools and colleges was launched in 1995 under an international NGO registered with the Turkish government.
“Initially, funding was made from Turkey to establish modern campuses in Pakistan. But for the last 15 years or so the chain has been 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’s 28 schools and colleges are functioning in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. Some 11,000 students, of pre-school to ‘A’ Level ages, are currently enrolled in the institutes.
In August, the management of the chain removed the Turkish principals of their 28 schools and colleges and also dissolved the board of directors which had representation from Turkish nationals.
According to sources, the Turkish government had suggested that the network be handed over to an international NGO having links with the Erdogan administration.
The management had also filed petitions in the Islamabad and Lahore high courts, seeking judicial help in continuing their operation.
Last month, the foreign affairs ministry had informed the Islamabad High Court that the government was not going to shut down the institutions and that it had not received any request from the Turkish government for the transfer of their management to a third party, Dawn news reported.