Turkish family disappears

Published September 29, 2017
QUETTA: Former Pak-Turk educationist Osman Arslanhan talks to reporters about the kidnapping of his colleague on Thursday.—INP
QUETTA: Former Pak-Turk educationist Osman Arslanhan talks to reporters about the kidnapping of his colleague on Thursday.—INP

MANY Lahore-based journalists would be familiar with Mesut Kacmaz as the man behind the Rumi Forum and as someone closely associated with the quite prominent Pak-Turk schools. On Wednesday morning, a bunch of uninvited guests swooped down on his house and, reportedly, picked him up along with his wife and two daughters.

According to a complaint filed by a neighbour in Lahore’s Wapda Town and a fellow Turkish citizen, it was a whole score of them — including women — who escorted the family away from their home. The identity of the ‘abductors’ and the whereabouts of the Kacmaz family, who are said to have resisted their capture before they were overpowered, blindfolded and led away, are unknown. This makes it even scarier. All that the clueless police can say is that they are looking for the missing family, which is hardly a reassurance that would kindle hope for an (early) recovery of the Kacmaz family.

The Pak-Turk school network came under a cloud in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey last year which was blamed on Fethullah Gulen and led to a crackdown on his followers in Turkey. In November last year, the Pakistani authorities directed the Turkish staff of the Pak-Turk schools to leave the country, implying they had links with Mr Gulen.

The Kacmaz family managed to stay on in Lahore, securing an asylum certificate of the UNHCR. Their apparent disappearance reflects the sort of high-handedness that Pakistanis who rub the authorities the wrong way have become familiar with.

Even though it is difficult to speculate whether the Turkish government has anything to do with the events on Wednesday, what has happened is clearly beyond the pale. The family has reasonable expectation that the country that has given them refuge would not imperil their safety at the behest of a foreign nation, even a friendly one.

Their recovery is of paramount importance, and the sooner we get to the truth the better it would be for everyone’s reputation in the host country.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2017

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