Another Pakistani court halts gov’t order to deport Turkish teachers

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Pakistani students of the private PakTurk International schools and solleges hold placards during a protest in Lahore on November 29, 2016, against the Pakistani government's ordered deportation of 130 teachers. Pakistan has ordered the deportation of 130 teachers affiliated with the alleged mastermind of an attempted coup in Turkey. / AFP PHOTO / ARIF ALI

A court in Pakistan on Tuesday directed the federal government not to expel teachers of Turkish schools who are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, The Express Tribune reported.

According to the report, the Lahore High Court issued the order after hearing a petition challenging the government’s decision. The court issued notice to the Interior Ministry to submit a reply before Jan. 17, 2017.

Last week the Peshawar High Court issued a stay on a government order to deport Turkish teachers.

Ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Pakistan, the Pakistani government on Nov. 15 had ordered teachers who work at 23 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement in the country to leave Pakistan by Nov. 20.

According to The Express Tribune, the petitioner stated that more than 11,000 students are enrolled in the Turkish schools across the country; therefore, the decision will affect their future. “Snatching from students their right of education is violation of the Constitution,” the petitioner stated.

PakTurk International Schools and Colleges posted a statement on its website on Nov. 15 voicing concerns about the decision of the Pakistani government with regard to the Turkish teachers working at these schools in Pakistan.

“PakTurk International Schools and Colleges are deeply concerned over the abrupt decision of the Government requiring the Turkish teachers, management and their family members numbering to approximately 450 individuals including the school-going children, infants and ladies to leave the country within three days – an extraordinary time constraint – in consequence of non-approval of their requests for extension of visa,” said the statement.

Ankara had asked Pakistan in August to close down institutions run by Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish Islamic scholar accused of masterminding a botched coup attempt in Turkey in July. Gülen, whose views inspired the Gülen movement, which runs a network of schools, charity organizations and foundations around the world, strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

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 interests. 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 the 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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