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Pak-Turk schools saga

Updated Nov 17, 2016 12:58pm

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Turkey's President Erdogan is a welcome and honoured guest to Pakistan this week and we hope his visit will deepen investment and development ties between the two countries.

However, his visit has coincided with a controversial decision taken by the government here: the Pak-Turk Education Foundation’s Turkish staff and their families have been given three days to leave the country, causing the foundation’s management to move court against the orders.

The Pak-Turk schools are administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen, once an ally of Mr Erdogan. However, since July’s abortive coup attempt, the Turkish leadership has blamed Mr Gulen for sponsoring the overthrow attempt, resulting in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him.

While the coup attempt in Turkey may or may not have been instigated by Mr Gulen, Islamabad’s arbitrary decision is uncalled for. There are thousands of Pakistani children who have benefited from these schools since the 1990s, and there are thousands who will now suffer if their teachers are sent home.

True, there is nothing wrong with closer government scrutiny if it is felt that teaching methods or the syllabus content is flawed. But the sudden move to issue marching orders, and that too on the eve of Mr Erdogan’s visit, smacks of intentions that may have nothing to do with the quality of teaching or education.

There are two aspects to the unfortunate situation that must be highlighted.

First, while the coup attempt in Turkey was an event that was justifiably condemned by all those who believe in democracy, the Turkish government’s response has been unduly severe in several aspects, including the pressure on Pakistan to close down the schools.

Pakistan would have done well to dispassionately assess the situation, especially because it concerned the fate of so many students who might have been worse off in other schools, given the overall state of education here.

Second, many among the staff now being asked to leave have been working in these schools for several years. They had no visa issues previously, and there was not even a hint of their being linked to any illegal activity. Many have now voiced concerns they might be victimised by Turkish authorities on their return.

It would be better then for Pakistan and Turkey to see this issue as one impacting the studies of thousands of boys and girls, and address it keeping in mind the future of these students.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2016

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Comments (38) Closed



Tariq Ishtiaq Nov 17, 2016 07:33am

The Government of Turkiye has agreed to replace the existing teachers with ones from the the state schools of that country. A team of teachers led by senior personnel of Turkish Education Ministry is in Pakistan and going through the take-over procedures. Both, Pakistan and Turkish Governments will do their utmost in ensuring that the education of the students is not disrupted.

citizen Nov 17, 2016 08:13am

Politicians may come and go, but institutions are permanant...Already we are lagging in education front..Just to satisfy the egos of a politician, we are sacrificing the future of many children....

Scattered pattern Nov 17, 2016 10:31am

This is such a one way and narrow minded decision. Pakistan must learn to take more neutral and nonaligned positions when it is its own citizens directly being effected.

Sabir Nov 17, 2016 10:38am

Senseless move of the government, what else can someone expect from those who has education and health at their least on priority list.

Aman Khan Nov 17, 2016 11:08am

Why our children needed Turkish teachers, in the first place?

Ijaz Nov 17, 2016 12:17pm

@Aman Khan

Bro let me add here to your concerns "why do we even need education?" Right?

MalikIbrar Nov 17, 2016 12:52pm

@Aman Khan This is what you had to comment on this situation? here are few more relevant "why" questions for you:

1) Why do we need a turkish company to run metro buses, in the first place?

2) Why do we need a turkish company for waste management in lahore, in the first place?

3) Why do we need ......you see if i go beyond turkey, this list is very long

So please support kids and teachers!

ALEX D'SOUZA Nov 17, 2016 01:42pm

SULTAN Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Mahmood Nov 17, 2016 01:43pm

There is no legal or moral justification for this clumsy move by Pakistani government, but rather is being cajoled and influenced by Erdogan government on mere suspicion, nay paranoia, to deprive these kids of good teachers and quality education, by expelling the Turkish staff!

Frankly, given the sorry state of locally provided education, we should be grateful if ANY foreigner is brave and courageous enough to even come to Pakistan to invest in the education sector, for the future of Pakistani generations. Otherwise what has prevented Pakistani government from spending on education, healthcare and other essential services to raise the standards and quality, without foreign help!?

ashar Nov 17, 2016 01:52pm

The decision of the Government was a pre-requisite of Erdogan visit, it seems, the most important item of the agenda.

responsible Nov 17, 2016 02:04pm

If there is issue in Turkey then why our education system is disturb.

A Pakistani Nov 17, 2016 03:05pm

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers

Umreekan_Sundi Nov 17, 2016 03:05pm

Q: So, the schools will be closed? A: No Q: Will teachers be replaced? A: Yes, Turk government to provide replacements. Q: Were teachers being repatriated, Pakistanis? A: No, they were Turks being repatriated upon request of TURK GOVT Q: Did they request for asylum in Pakistan/any other country if they are convinced of harassment once relocated to Turkey? A: No Q: Are we sure that Gulen's schools have nothing to do with his political activities despite his denials? A: We dont know - nor we can find this out without carrying out an exhaustive investigation across several countries where Gulen is operating. Q: Name one country which has stood by Pakistan in all international fora for all its issues? A: Turkey Q: Were our relations as friendly as they are now before Erdogan came to power? A: No Q: Should we, having military courts of its own and our security agencies stand accused of 'forced disappearances' lecture other countries on how to manage its internal affairs? A: A big fat NO

AW Nov 17, 2016 03:12pm

It is a shame to deport 400 Turkish teachers and their family members with out cause and in an unlawful manner. Our friendship is with the People of Turkey and not with the dictator Erdogan who has, through his actions; proven to be a suppressor of Turkish people with opposing views. The PML-N government has embarrassed People of Pakistan for the sake of pleasing the Turkish dictator who has grabbed power in Turkey in the garb of democracy just like the PML-N and PPP etc work in the garb of democracy to promote their own self-serving interests at the expense of the Pakistani public

M. Malik Nov 17, 2016 03:16pm

@A Pakistani - Thank you for your eloquence and for reducing the poor Pakistani kids to 'grass'. We would never have thought as such!

A Pakistani Nov 17, 2016 03:33pm

@M. Malik

This is ancient proverb of the Kikuyu people, a tribal group in Kenya, Africa meaning “Innocents suffer in fights between powerful opponents”.

Feel better now?

Advocate in making Nov 17, 2016 03:46pm

The PML-N government has already buckled under pressure from the Turkish government. It is pretty obvious from the marching orders given to the teaching and other staff of the Turkish schools to leave Pakistan within three days.

Advocate in making Nov 17, 2016 03:49pm

@Scattered pattern

Who in the PML-N government cares about the education of the children in Pakistan? What matters is the business links between you know who and the Turks.

Advocate in making Nov 17, 2016 03:54pm

@ALEX D

Another king thrown up by the 'democracy'. Without him, democracy and the country, both are in danger - like in Pakistan.

Skeptic Nov 17, 2016 04:14pm

@A Pakistani - And what if the elephants were fighting in the river (of ignorance)!?

Kumar Nov 17, 2016 05:18pm

@Advocate in making Why three days? Ok Pakistan Govt. does not care of children education but should care of for the inconvenience of Turkish guests.

Kumar Nov 17, 2016 05:19pm

@Umreekan_Sundi Are you for Turkey or against it. Not clear from your comments.

sajed syed Nov 17, 2016 05:39pm

Very balanced editorial. Pakistan needs to comply with international norms of justice and fair play. No man is above law, equality and fairness.

Solidarity with Turkish brethren who are being persecuted by Erdogan regime out of its survival instinct and in the process making more rebellions.

If Pakistan does force Turkish teachers to move out of Pakistan, they shall apply for asylum in a European country as under UN Charter they are entitled for asylum due to open hostility and threat (to the extent of Turkish President travelling to Pakistan and speaking on behalf of Pakistan government of sending teachers back by 20th November).

Solidarity with teachers and Turkish who want freedom of speech, assembly and rule of law, justice and fairness in all respects.

Iftikhar Husain Nov 17, 2016 05:47pm

Confused state of affairs as usual.

sajed syed Nov 17, 2016 05:56pm

@Advocate in making , it is a shame, Pakistan government is not respecting our guest. Why the hell it has to give 3 days to the teachers to live in Pakistan? They should have been picked from their schools and homes and bundled into Turkish Airlines planes on one way ticket to Istanbul, before the arrival of our good friend, kind leader of Turkish, Sultan Erdogan.

Syed Nov 17, 2016 07:56pm

Pakistan Govt. should have scrutinized and should have left the innocent ones working, not all of them could possibly be involved in helping Gulan in the coup attempt. Was the home work done in this case.?

AKB Nov 17, 2016 08:26pm

There is a need to separate politics from children,s future.

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:48pm

please let turkish staff stay with us they r outstanding teachers pakistan will get ever..

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:48pm

save pakistan............

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:50pm

exactly...

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:52pm

i agree with u totally

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:53pm

why should pakturk remain any more

rabeya mughal Nov 17, 2016 08:54pm

if u dont want staff please donot discourage the others please....

Fazal Karim Nov 17, 2016 11:33pm

By arresting more than a lac service men, government employees, journalists, judges, teachers and ordinary citizens without proof of involvement in coup Tayyep Redaction is loosing sympathy in general. It will reflect badly if their is another attempt to over throw government and at next election. A country with weak economy and international isolation has no option to take stand on principles

Javed Nov 18, 2016 01:59am

No law... just Might is Right.

sf Nov 18, 2016 05:11am

Now, when the teachers will be replaced by Erdogan, we will see his propaganda being promoted by these new teachers, influencing the young minds and may even see his picture hung over in the rear or front in the class room, dangerous precedent.

Gulshan Banoo Nov 18, 2016 07:50am

Mr Tariq Ishtiaq, sir,

Kindly ask the Turkish government to double its favor by replacing our existing rulers for us as well.

Shah Rukh Hashmi Nov 18, 2016 11:48am

The issue highlights and elucidates that roots of Pak-Turk relations are jeopardized by individuals who are ruling from more than a decade. Although such visits are planned far-ahead, at present it seems a demarcate-cum-authoritarian head of state came to rescue fellow mate in times when Panama Trail are in court. Who else may come to show solidarity other than KSA,Turkey or neighbor in the North.