ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry on Monday admitted that the Pakistani government has been facing pressure from the Turkish government over the matter of Turkish teachers and other citizens residing in Pakistan.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, which met at Parliament House on Monday with Senator Rehman Malik in the chair, Mr Chaudhry said not a single Turkish teacher or citizen who had valid documents has been deported from Pakistan. The state minister also claimed that the government had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the four missing Turkish citizens reportedly abducted from Lahore.

A Turkish teacher, Mesut Kacmaz, his wife and two daughters- Huda Nur and Fatima Huma- were picked up from their residence in Wapda Town on Sept 27 this year allegedly by a law enforcement agency.

It is said that the family, which was associated with the Pak-Turk International Schools & College System in Pakistan, was deported to Turkey.

The state minister for interior told the committee that the Turkish teachers and citizens who had valid documents for staying in Pakistan or those who have secured an asylum certificate were not deported from Pakistan.

“We know nothing about the [four missing Turkish citizens],” the minister said, adding that the government has been facing pressure from the Turkish government and that its ambassador is also very much involved in the issue of Pak Turk schools.

A joint secretary of the interior ministry said 175 Turkish nationals have left Pakistan and that 219 are still residing in the country. He said the names of the four members of the same family who are missing have been put on the Exit Control List and that the administrative control of Pak Turk Schools & Colleges has been handed over to a new organisation.

The committee directed the official to furnish complete details of the new organisation and the process adopted for shifting the administrative control of the school system before the next meeting of the committee.

The Pak Turk school system came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey last year which was blamed on Fethullah Gulen and led to a crack down on his follower in Turkey and other countries.

The matter of action being taken against Turkish citizens living in Pakistan with a valid and legal visa was brought up by Senator Mohammad Ali Khan Saif, who said Pakistan is signatory to numerous international conventions which provide protection for all such foreigners residing legally in a state and who have fear of a trial in their own country. The senator said it has been reported in the press that many Turks who had legal work permits were deported without being given due time to have a fair trial before deportation.

He was not satisfied with the briefing by the state minister and officials of the interior ministry and the chairman of the committee therefore decided to defer the matter till the next meeting, asking the ministry to provide details of any ongoing trials and also take the matter up with the Turkish government. The mover will also bring details about any such cases if available.

Officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) gave participants a briefing regarding the inquiries referred to it by the Capital Development Authority against cooperative housing societies which have sold plots which were not available. Director FIA told the meeting that action is being taken against the Multi Professional Cooperative Housing Society E-11, Pakistan Medical Cooperative Housing Society E-11, the Jammu and Kashmir Cooperative Housing Society G-15 and Soan Gardens Cooperative Housing Society Zone 5.

The committee also discussed the proposed Criminal Law (Amendment) (Protection of Rights of Transgender Persons) Bill, 2017 which was moved by Senator Rubina Khalid, and after hearing the mover, the law division and the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), referred the bill to the CII and asked the council to give a clear answer in affirmative or negative on the bill with proper justification.

Members of the committee condemned the attack on the Agriculture Training Institute in Peshawar and prayed for the victims and their families. The committee demanded that the government take the matter up with Afghanistan as chief terrorists like Mullah Fazlullah and others are sponsoring terror activities in Pakistan from Afghanistan. Members urged for more security across the Pak-Afghan border and said India is behind the terrorist activities across the country.

Published in Dawn, December 05th, 2017