Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by the Pak-Turk international schools administration against the expulsion of its Turkish staff by Nov. 20, saying that the petitioners should instead approach the interior ministry.
A day before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Pakistan on Wednesday, the Pakistani government ordered teachers who work at 23 schools affiliated with the Gülen movement to leave Pakistan by Nov. 20.
A total of 108 teachers are working at Gülen-affiliated schools in Pakistan, which operate under the name of Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges. They have been asked to leave the country with their families, numbering 450 people in total.
Pak-Turk Chairman Alamgir Khan had petitioned the Islamabad High Court regarding the matter of the expulsion of Turkish staff from the country, but Justice Amir Farooq told them to go to the interior ministry. Khan failed to receive an explanation from the interior ministry about the refusal to extend their visas.
Pak-Turk Schools in their petition claimed that the applications submitted on June 22 for the extension of visas of teachers were rejected on Nov. 11 without explanation. They added they were ordered to leave the country within three days on Nov. 14 by the interior ministry.
After Khan pleaded with the court to set aside the interior ministry’s orders and grant permission to employees of the network to stay in Pakistan until completion of the ongoing school year in March 2017, Judge Farooq said that giving the staff members six days’ notice to leave the country was unreasonable.
Khan also added that the school year of 11,000 students associated with the 23 branches of Pak-Turk Schools would be adversely affected if they complied with the order, which would impact not only 108 teachers but also some 400 family members residing with them in Pakistan.
The network of Pak-Turk schools and colleges was launched in 1995 under an international NGO registered with the Turkish government.
The chain’s 23 schools and colleges operate in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta.
Hafiz Arafat, a parent whose children attend a Pak-Turk school in Islamabad, was having a difficult time explaining the situation to his kids.
“My children have been studying here for eight years. I find it astonishing that the Turkish government is alleging that the schools are involved in supporting Fethullah Gülen’s ideology,” Arafat told Pakistani newspaper Dawn. “We have never witnessed anything irregular at these schools,” he added.
BBC reported on Thursday that Erdoğan, who is currently in Pakistan, described the decision as “very pleasing.”
In a video that was recently uploaded to Twitter, a Pakistani girl who attends a Turkish school in Islamabad bursts into tears after she learns the Pakistani government decided to expel her Turkish teachers.
“To every other teacher, to every other person on this planet, to all the Turkish people, I will say one thing. They [teachers] do not deserve this. They do not deserve whatever is coming at them. Even the bad teachers were never bad people. They don’t deserve to go to jail. They have children who deserve an education. When you are taking them [the teachers] you are taking away my rights, my education and everything I care about and everything that I love,” said the student in the 62-second video which was viewed hundreds of times on Twitter.