Pakistani court halts gov’t order to deport Turkish teachers

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Pakistani students of the private PakTurk International Schools and Colleges hold placards during a protest in Karachi on November 17, 2016 against the Pakistani government's ordered deportation of 130 teachers. / AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN

A Pakistani court on Wednesday issued a stay on a government order to deport Turkish teachers who are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, according to a report in the Pakistani English-language daily Dawn.

Last week the Pakistani government ordered teachers who work at 26 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in the country to leave Pakistan by Nov. 20.

A total of 130 teachers are working at Gülen-affiliated schools in Pakistan, which operate under the name of PakTurk International Schools and Colleges. They have been asked to leave the country with their families, numbering 450 people in total.

The decision of the Pakistani government, which was announced one day before a visit Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would pay to the country, sparked protests around Pakistan for being politically motivated.

Dawn reported on Wednesday that a two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah heard a written petition filed by students and parents of PakTurk schools.

The petitioners maintained that the federal government had ordered the expulsion of teachers for political reasons to which the teachers had no connection.

The petition mentioned that there were 26 PakTurk school campuses across the country, in which around 11,000 students were enrolled.

The PHC issued a stay on the federal government’s earlier order of expulsion of teachers and issued a notice to the federal government to clarify its stance on the issue.

The next hearing at PHC will be held on Dec. 1.

In Pakistan the Gülen movement runs a network of schools and the Rumi Forum, an intellectual and intercultural dialogue platform, in addition to having business stakes. Gülen-linked organizations and businesses have been operating in Pakistan for decades.

Since the eruption of a corruption investigation in late 2013 in which senior members of the Turkish government were involved, Erdoğan has been waging an all-out war against the movement. All Gülen-linked schools, organizations and foundations were closed down in Turkey after a failed coup attempt on July 15. Erdoğan is also exerting pressure on other countries to close down Gülen schools operating in those places.

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