Turkish staff of PakTurk schools told to leave Pakistan

Islamabad: The future of more than 100 Turkish citizens working for private schools set up by the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges network plunged into uncertainty after the government has declined to extend their visas and intended to send them back to Turkey.

The decision is significant because it came at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to arrive on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Wednesday.

In addition it has been a consistent demand of the Turkish government to shut down these schools which, it claimed, are backed by Fethullah Gulen-inspired Hizmet movement.

Ankara claims Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in the US, was the alleged mastermind of the failed military coup in Turkey. Gulen has denied any involvement.

According to a notification of the Ministry of Interior dated November 14, 2016, the teachers have been asked to leave the country within three days – before November 20, 2016,

The network of 28 schools and colleges in Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur and Jamshoro has a staff strength of around 1,200 Pakistanis and 134 Turkish personnel who teach around 10,000 students from pre-school to A level.

“This ministry has already issued an exit permit, without overstay charges, in favour of these foreigners,” the notification stated.

According to an official, the move sparked fears in the school management because the Turkish government had tried to shut down the schools and asked the Pakistani authorities to deport the school administration back to Turkey.