Pak-Turk schools may not shut down after all
The status of the schools plunged into uncertainty after Turkey’s ambassador called on the Pakistan government to close down all institutions, claiming that they are backed by the Fethullah Gulen-inspired Hizmet movement.
Last week, during an official visit to Islamabad, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed the chain of ‘Gulen-run’ schools in Pakistan should be shut down.
Ankara claims that Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in the United States, was the alleged mastermind of the failed military coup in Turkey a few weeks back. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the cleric — a former Erdogan ally — and followers for the rebellion and demanded his extradition. Gulen has denied any involvement.
On August 6, the Islamabad High Court granted the deputy attorney general (DAG) three weeks to seek instructions from the ministry of interior and the ministry of foreign affairs after the Pak-Turk Education Foundation moved the IHC against the possible closure of its school network by the government.
Pak-Turk schools issue: Foundation moves court for fear of closure
Justice Aamer Farooq allowed the DAG’s request to grant more time for seeking instructions from the ministries. Meanwhile, when the petitioner counsel Hafiz Arfaat raised concerns that the government would close the Pak-Turk Education Foundation, the court directed him to approach the court if such a decision was taken.
During the hearing, the DAG said that government has not yet taken any decision on the issue and most of the information was based on rumours perpetuated by some segments of the media.
In the petition, another counsel for the petitioner, Hafiz SA Rehman, prayed the court to allow them to keep operating without interference.
In his arguments, Rehman said that the foundation was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and had a valid license to function.
He said that over 11,000 students and 1,500 teachers would be directly affected if the 23 PakTurk schools in Pakistan were closed down.