November 28, 2016

Pak-Turk School bids adieu to Turkish teachers

Most Turkish teachers and members of staff working in Pak-Turk Schools in Islamabad have left Pakistan and the remaining are preparing to leave the country soon.

Students and parents hosted a farewell party for the teachers and staff at the school’s H-8 campus over the weekend.

“The majority of Turkish teachers and staff members did not come to school on Monday,” said Hasnain Nazish, a spokesperson for the Pak-Turk Schools.

A student at the H-8 campus, Bint Ali told Dawn that the school management had told students that their Turkish teachers had left Pakistan.

Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had in August this year requested Pakistan to close down the Pak-Turk Schools for their alleged involvement with the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Pakistan had promised that it will look into the issue. The school chain is administered by a foundation linked to Gulen, once an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to teachers at the party, there were only 10 or 15 Turkish staff members who were all set to leave the country following the governments’ directives for them to leave on Nov 30. The initial deadline for them to leave was Nov 20.

A parent who has been running a campaign in favor of the Turkish teachers, Advocate Hafiz Arfat said the teachers did not have the option to stay as the Islamabad High Court had rejected the plea against their expulsion.

“As far as I know, the Turkish teachers are staying in Thailand instead of going to Turkey, as there were apprehensions that they will be jailed by the Turkish government,” he said, adding that most of the Turkish staff working in the schools in Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar have also let.

Talking about the stay order issued by the Peshawar High Court, he said that most of the Turkish staff had already left the country by the time the order was issued.

Talking to Dawn a few days ago, the State Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Balighur Rehman had said that any government had the prerogative to pass marching orders.

However, he said he did not know if other Turkish teachers will be replacing those who leave.

“The Pak-Turk Schools will not be closed down,” he had said.

Students and parents have opposed the government’s decision to expel the Turkish staff working in the school chain.

The network of the Pak-Turk Schools and Colleges was launched in 1995 under an INGO registered with the Turkish government. The chain has 28 schools now in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta.

Published on Dawn, 29 November 2016, Wednesday