ISLAMABAD: The government is not going to shut down Pak-Turk schools nor it has received any request from the Turkish government for the transfer of its management to any third party.
This was stated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in written comments submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in response to a petition filed by the management of the Pak-Turk schools.
The petition was filed after speculations related to the closure or transfer of the 28 branches of the Pak-Turk schools across the country from the current Pak-Turk Education Foundation, allegedly linked with Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, to the pro-President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Maarif Foundation. The ministry said the “demand from any quarter to close the Pak-Turk Education Foundation has not been received.”
The written comments, however, added that “a process exists under the law of the land for establishment, closure or transference of management/title of any such organisation.”
Foreign ministry says the govt has also not received any request from Turkey to hand over the schools to any other party
The ministry also disowned a statement of its spokesman appearing in a section of the press that the takeover of the Pak-Turk schools by any other entity was an option.
The ministry said: “The same (statement of the spokesman) does not exist in the official transcript of the weekly press briefing of the ministry.”
The ministry contended that the petition was based on hearsay and unfounded apprehensions and was not maintainable and liable to be dismissed.
The Ministry of Interior in its reply to the petition said it was not taking any action against the foundation. It said the petitioner was a private limited company registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan. It said the Pak-Turk International Educational Foundation had applied online for registration with the ministry as an international nongovernmental organisation and its application was under process.
“The petition is mainly based on media reports. The Ministry of Interior has no concern with the subject petition and has not initiated any action against the petitioner.”
It may be mentioned that after the July 15 failed coup in Turkey, the Turkish government believed that the Pak-Turk schools were a part of the network owned by Fethullah Gulen, a political rival of President Erdogan. The Turkish government had reportedly called upon Pakistan to close down the schools. Turkey declared Gulen’s organisation a terrorist entity after the coup attempt.
Alamgir Khan, a director of the board which runs the Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan, told Dawn that the Turkish government had introduced Al-Maarif educational network which would take over the Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan. He also admitted that the administration of the schools was inspired by the ideology of Gulen but denied any stake of Gulen in the educational network.
According to the petition, the schools network has been registered with the relevant departments in a lawful manner and after obtaining necessary approvals from the quarters concerned they enrolled thousands of children in different cities.
The petition added that at present more than 10,000 students were studying in the Pak-Turk schools in its 28 branches in 10 cities.
Mohammad Saghir Chaudhry, whose daughter is doing FSc from one of the schools, said he was worried about the future of his daughter after there were speculations about the closure or handing over of the educational network to any other entity.
“I never noticed anything weird in the affairs of the schools with regard to internal politics of Turkey,” he said, adding students or educational institutions should not be dragged into the controversy as it would harm their education.
The IHC will take up the petition on a date to be fixed by the registrar office.
Published in Dawn October 2nd, 2016