April 25, 2017

Pak-Turk Schools: Turkish teachers' deportation stayed till May 22

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Monday the federal law officer to submit a detailed reply on behalf of the federal government on a petition against the deportation of Turkish teachers.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, also extended the stay against the deportation of the Turkish teachers till May 22.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by a group of parents, students and teachers of the Pak-Turk Schools against the deportation of Turkish teaching staff, following a request made by the Turkish government.

Turkey had requested Pakistan to close down the Pak-Turk Schools run by the United States-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who had been accused of instigating a coup attempt last year.

Therefore, the interior ministry had ordered in November last year the Turkish staff of the educational network to leave Pakistan, rejecting their applications for extension of visas.

Following the federal government’s decision, the parents and students of the Pak-Turk Schools approached the court, which has granted a stay against their deportation ever since.

Last month, the attorney-general had informed the court that the Turkish teachers were being deported after their involvement was established in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

However, the judges had ordered him to submit a law under which such deportations were being made.

Taking up the matter on Tuesday, the judges once again asked the additional attorney-general to place on record the law under which a foreigner peacefully living in the country could be deported.

The federal law officer, Salman Talibuddin, informed the visas granted to the Turkish teachers had expired and now they were illegally staying in the country.

However, the judges observed that Article 9 of the Constitution guarantees protection to foreigners. Therefore, they directed the additional attorney-general to submit a detailed reply on behalf of the federal authorities concerned on which law the Turkish teachers were being deported.

They sought such a reply by May 22. Till then, the judges extended the stay against the deportation of the Turkish teachers.

Case history

The petitioners’ lawyer, Abdul Hameed Khoso, said the Pak-Turk Foundation was a non-profit, non-governmental organisation which has nothing to do with the politics of Pakistan or Turkey.

The petitioners submitted that the deportation order would hurt the interests of 11,000 students studying in the Pak-Turk Schools.

Khoso said the Turkish teachers had applied for an extension of their visas, but the government, instead of granting the extension, ordered the staff to leave the country.

He maintained that the Pak-Turk Schools provide inexpensive but high-quality education.

“The decision to deport the teachers will harm the future of the students of the schools,” said Khoso.

Published on The Express Tribune, 25 April 2017, Tuesday