December 3, 2016

PakTurk schools: Sindh High Court scraps decree on Turkish staff’s deportation

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has struck down a federal government decree on the deportation of Turkish staff of PakTurk schools, cancelling any measure contemplated by the authorities against them.

A division bench headed by Justice Muneeb Akhtar also sought comments from the interior ministry and deputy attorney general over the eviction notice to the Turkish staffers. According to the notice, the teaching staff were supposed to leave by Dec 13.

On the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the federal government had asked the PakTurk Education Foundation’s Turkish staff and their families to leave the country, causing the foundation’s management to move the court against the orders.

The PakTurk schools are administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen, once an ally of President Erdogan. However, since the botched coup in July, the Turkish leadership has blamed Gulen for sponsoring the overthrow attempt, resulting in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him including in Pakistan.

The high court gave the directive over petitions filed by two PakTurk schools’ teachers and parents of the students studying there. The litigants pleaded against the government’s decision to close the school chain and deport its foreign staffers.

The litigants maintained that the decision to expel staffers was against the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as well as bad for the students studying at the PakTurk Schools.

According to the staffers, there were 26 schools across the country being run by the PakTurk Education Foundation and around 11,000 students were enrolled in them.

They said they had applied for an extension in their visas on June 22 and were told by the authorities concerned that the matter was under consideration. However, they added that on November 14, they were asked in a letter by the interior ministry to leave the country by the 20th of the month.

They claimed that the ‘forced’ expulsion would harm the interests of the students as the middle session at the schools was scheduled to be completed in March 2017.

Parents of the students have also said they don’t want politics to affect the education of their children.

Published in The Express Tribune, 3 December 2016, Saturday