ISLAMABAD: Officials of the Pak-Turk Educational Foundation have challenged the order issued by the government, ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s arrival here, to the Turkish staff of its schools to leave the country.

The foundation’s chairman Alamgir Khan and employees Ramazan Arslan and Murat Ervan challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday the interior ministry’s order to the expatriate teachers and other staff, and their families, including children enro­lled in Pakistan, to leave the country before Nov 20.

The Turkish government believes that the Pak-Turk schools are part of a network operated by Fethullah Gulen, a political rival of President Erdogan, and has reportedly called upon Pakistan to

close them down. Turkey declared Mr Gulen’s organisation a terrorist entity after the July 15 failed coup attempt in the country.

After filing a petition with the IHC earlier, Mr Khan had said that the schools were not part of Mr Gulen’s network, but their administration was inspired by his ideology.

Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC will hear the petition on Thursday.

The petitioners requested the court to set aside the ministry’s orders and allow the expatriate staff to continue with their teaching and administration assignments in the country and ask the respondent to extend their and their families’ visas till the end of the education session.

The ministry, in its letter, had told all the foreign nationals whose visas had not been extended to leave the country before Nov 20. It added that the ministry had issued an exit permit for them without overstay charges.

According to the petition, 26 Pak-Turk schools and other institutions are providing education to nearly 11,000 students across the country, catering to the educational needs of deserving students free of cost or on subsidised rates and sending selected Pakistani students abroad on full scholarship for completing their higher studies.

It said the company provided employment to over 1,000 Pakistanis.

It said the petitioners had retained services of expatriate employees with requisite expertise and experience to ensure maintenance and enhancement of the internationally accepted standards.

The petition said that the expatriate employees provided core instructional and management services to the petitioners and their company, enabling them to sustain educational operation of the schools of the required quality.

The petitioners, their family members, the expatriate staff as well as their children getting education and residing in Pakistan had submitted applications for the extension of their visas in June.

The ministry informed the foundation on Nov 11 that the request for visa extension had been considered at the appropriate level but had not been acceded to. No reason or ground for the decision had been provided in the letter, the petition said.

On Nov 14, the ministry asked all the foreign nationals whose visas had not been extended to leave the country before Nov 20.

The petitioners said the orders were unjust, unfair and arbitrary, and had been issued without disclosing any reason. Before issuing the orders, the petitioners and their families had not been provided an opportunity of personal hearing and they had been condemned unheard, they said.

The petitioners said the foundation was a company incorporated under Section 32 and the provisions of the Companies Ordinance, 1984 since 2011.

They said the company was working on a not-for-profit basis with the paramount objective of establishing, managing, maintaining, owning, administering, promoting and subsidising educational institutions in accordance with its memorandum of association.

They prayed to the court to set aside the orders and issue directives for extending their visas till the summer vacation.

Published in Dawn November 17th, 2016

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