Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday stressed the chain of ‘Gulen-run’ schools in Pakistan should be shut down. During an official visit to Islamabad, the Turkish envoy addressed a joint press conference after his meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz .
Ankara claims that Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in the United States, was the alleged mastermind of the recently failed military coup plot in Turkey.
Fethullah Gulen, the arch-enemy of Turkey’s president
The envoy said Pakistan assured Turkey of its cooperation on the issue. He also thanked Pakistan for extending support to democracy in Turkey and recalled that request for shutting down Gulen-run schools was made much before the coup, “The request was made when President Mamnoon Hussain visited Turkey.”
“Gulen-run schools are functional in many different countries,” he said. “Turkey has always supported Pakistan on its stance on the Kashmir issue.” The Turkish envoy added that the two countries are in talks to initiate the Islamabad-Istanbul corridor.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the cleric’s followers for the rebellion and demanded his extradition, though Gulen has denied any involvement.
Sartaj Aziz stressed that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy close brotherly relations. “We are on the same page when it comes to tackling terrorism.” He said Pakistan will explore options to come up with an arrangement to ensure that the schools are delinked from Gulen network.
Gulen-run schools to rule agenda as Turkish FM arrives in Pakistan
Aziz also said the Turkish people had foiled the attempts by a certain section of the army to stage a coup and overthrow the democratically-elected government. He reminded the Turkish Foreign Minister that Pakistani parliament had passed a resolution condemning the attempted military coup in Turkey.
Over 11,000 students and 1,500 teachers will be directly affected if the 23 Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan close down.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in the capital on Monday on a two-day official visit for talks with Pakistani authorities on bilateral ties, as well as the regional security situation.
When asked about the Turkish demand for action against Gulen-run institutions, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria had said Islamabad was in contact with Ankara on the issue.
Turkey detains senior Gulen aide after coup attempt
“Pakistan has very close and brotherly ties with Turkey. We are aware of the Turkish concerns. Authorities in both the countries are in touch with each other to address Turkish concerns while also remaining cognisant of the importance of avoiding disruption in the academic activities of a sizeable number of students,” Zakria added.
“In essence, in keeping with the cordial relations between the two countries, we are maintaining a close contact with Turkey to address the issue in a manner that fully addresses Turkey’s concerns as also of the students,” he further said.