LAHORE: Turkey’s Maarif Foundation on Tuesday formally assumed the management of all educational institutions in Pakistan previously linked to Fethullah Gulen’s organisation.
There are 28 Pak-Turk schools in different cities. Schools in Karachi and Islamabad were handed over to the foundation on Friday and those in Lahore on Tuesday.
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The Supreme Court had earlier instructed the government to declare Gulen’s organisation a terrorist group and ordered handing over of the schools to the Maarif Foundation.
Turkey had established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 after a coup attempt. It was tasked with taking over the administration of overseas schools linked to Gulen’s organisation. It also establishes schools and educational centres internationally.
The Pak-Turk schools were administered by a foundation linked to Gulen, once an ally of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. However, since the abortive coup attempt in 2016, the Turkish leadership has blamed Gulen for sponsoring the overthrow attempt, resulting in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him.
Ankara accuses Gulen of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
However, the students of Pak-Turk schools and their parents had protested against the government for handing over their teachers to Turkey and later the schools to the foundation.
Maarif Foundation president Prof Dr Birol Akgün said in a statement that his organisation was taking over schools, institutions and facilities in several countries linked to Gulen through bilateral and multilateral agreements on behalf of the Republic of Turkey.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2019