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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has asked the government to declare the Pak-Turk International Cag Education Foundation (PTICEF) a proscribed organisation and ordered for all its moveable and immoveable assets, schools, colleges, tuition centres and similar entities to be handed over to the Turkiye Maarif Foundation (TMF) with immediate effect.

A three-judge SC bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued its verdict on a petition filed by Mohammad Sohail Sajid asking for the custody of Pak-Turk schools and immovable and movable assets to be granted to the TMF.

The petition had also sought a declaration that the PTICEF was a terrorist organisation, in compliance with international commitments.

Orders handover of assets to TMF, finance ministry to take up transfer of foundation’s accounts, funds with SBP

Authored by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the verdict held that the questions raised were of public importance, as they involved the establishment and operation of educational institutions; a fundamental right.

It said citizens have a right to security of person and to education in lawfully set up educational institutions, in addition to the right and interest in the enforcement of laws to ensure no terrorist organisations or any entity with links to terrorist organisations are allowed to operate in Pakistan.

The PTICEF was established in 1999 under a memorandum of understanding signed between the government’s Economic Affairs Division and the PTICEF.

The foundation’s objectives were to disseminate quality education at low cost to Pakistani students.

Some resources in this regard were to be contributed by the government, including land for school buildings in various cities. In all, 28 schools were established under the arrangement.

The SC judgement noted that in 1999, the PTICEF was recognised under Turkish law and had the support, backing and guardianship of the Turkish government. However in 2016, the PTICEF’s parent organisation Cag Educational Corporation (CEC) was found to be engaged in subversive activities in Turkey.

It was also later found to be owned and directly controlled by an organisation involved in an unsuccessful military coup to overthrow the Turkish government, it said. Subsequent investigations found a direct link between the CEC and the PTICEF.

The verdict said the Turkish government declared the PTICEF and its related organisation ‘Fetullah’s Terrorist Organisation’, an association also recognised by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a terrorist organisation.

The SC ordered that the management and financial control of all schools and institutions will be vested in and shall be exercised in accordance with the decision made in meetings between the Turkish and Pakistani governments on Nov 16, 2016, and Feb 22, 2017.

Law enforcement, including the Federal Investigation Agency and police, have been directed to provide support and assistance to TMF representatives in taking over the PTICEF’s 28 schools.

The Ministry of Interior has also been asked to declare the PTICEF a proscribed organisation and include its name in the First Schedule under section 11-B of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

All accounts in the name of the PTICEF or any of its directors, administrators, employees and so on, in Pakistan will also be blocked and frozen immediately. No transactions of fund transfers from these accounts will be permitted.

The verdict also said the Ministry of Finance will take up the case with the State Bank to take all the necessary steps and issue directions to give custody of accounts and funds held therein to duly authorised TMF representatives, which will be deemed to have stepped into the PTICEF’s shoes complete power to operate the accounts and use the available funds solely for educational activities and the administrative needs of the schools.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2018

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