Turkey wants Pakistan to shut institutions run by Gulen

Published July 23, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin addresses a press conference here on Friday.— APP
ISLAMABAD: Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin addresses a press conference here on Friday.— APP

ISLAMABAD: Ankara expects Pakistan to close down institutions run by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based religious leader accused of masterminding and backing the botched coup attempt in Turkey last week.

“We have called on all friendly countries to prevent activities of this (Gulen’s) group,” Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin said at a media briefing on the developments in Turkey after the failed attempt to topple the government.

He said the Turkish government had solid evidence that Gulen’s movement was behind the plot.

In Pakistan, Gulen runs a network of about 21 schools and Rumi Forum, an intellectual and intercultural dialogue platform, in addition to having business stakes. His organisations and businesses have been operating in Pakistan for decades.

Noting that Gulen had “big presence in Pakistan”, Mr Girgin said Turkey was in close contact with Pakistani authorities. “We have had good cooperation with Pakistan in every field.”

(A source separately disclosed that the Pakistan government had begun examining options for administrative action against Gulen-linked institutions in the country.)

Mr Girgin said the Turkish government was also seeking Gulen’s extradition from the United States, adding that the evidence asked by the US had been provided to the American authorities and Vice President Joe Biden had assured that it would be considered.

About the international reaction to the failed overthrow attempt, he said it had now been denounced by all countries, but initially the reaction of some of the champions of democracy was “disappointing”.

The US and some other countries had been cautious in the early hours of the coup attempt and condemned it only after its failure.

Ambassador Girgin regretted the West’s ‘double standards’ and said France had extended its emergency period the same day Turkish parliament imposed emergency, but still criticised Turkey for doing so.

One of the officials, who assisted the ambassador at the press briefing, claimed that the CIA had even disclosed the route of President Erdogan’s business jet as he flew to Istanbul from Marmaris, where he had been vacationing, putting his life at risk.

Two pro-coup F-16s intercepted Erdogan’s plane, but mistook it for a passenger flight.

When asked for the basis of his claim, the official said everyone knew who ran Stratfor – the global intelligence group that tweeted Erdogan’s flight path.

On the issue of adjustments in Turkish foreign policy, the envoy clarified that the decision in this regard had been taken before the coup attempt.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had said his country would improve relations with not only Russia and Egypt but also with all countries around the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

“That policy of normalisation with neighbours would go ahead,” Mr Girgin said.

About staying in Nato, he said no decision had been taken as yet.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2016


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