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November 18, 2016

PakTurk school students, teachers protest against deportation orders


November 18, 2016

A large number of students of the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, along with teaching and non-teaching staff, on Thursday staged a protest outside the Karachi Press Club against the government’s orders asking all the Turkish citizens attached with the educational project to leave Pakistan by November 20.

The interior minister had informed the Pak-Turk school staff that their visas had been cancelled and they should leave the country within one week. This decision was revealed just a day before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who addressed the Pakistani parliament for the record third time on Thursday.

This move was on the card as in August, Pakistan had promised the then Turkey’s visiting foreign minister Mevlut Çavusoglu to look into affairs of the chain Ankara wanted to be closed for its alleged links with US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen in the aftermath of Turkey’s failed coup.

However, the timing of the orders was strongly condemned by the students as well as their parents and teachers. They demanded the government to withdraw its decision and restore their visas so that they could resume their duties without any hardship.

The students, who were holding placards and banners in favour of their demands, asked the government to realise the ground reality that these people were not involved in any coup. They told The News that their matriculation and intermediate examinations would begin in three months, and removal of teaching staff would definitely affect their preparations. “To save our future, the government should think about us, rather than taking decisions on political grounds.”

Hassebullah Jogi, principal of the PakTurk School located in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, said the school chain was playing a very positive role in improving education standard in Pakistan and such moves would ruin all the hard work of Turkish citizens for this country. He appealed to the federal government to allow the school and college staff to stay in Pakistan till the end of the upcoming exams so that students could focus on their education. “After completion of the papers, we will readily accept any decision by the government.”

He said there were 28 educational institutions being run in Pakistan while over 100 teaching and around 400 Turkish administrators and their families was performing duties in many cities of the country.

According to him, over 22 teachers and their families are living in Karachi alone while there are three schools in the city, one each in Sheerin Jinnah Colony, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Gulistan-e-Jauhar. He mentioned there were about 100 students enrolled in these campuses.

Not happy with the federal government’s decision, the management of the educational network had expressed their concerns over the “abrupt move”. As per senior officials, the educational chain’s staff had been informed on Sunday that their visas have been cancelled and letters had been issued as well to inform them that they had only one week to leave the country. “The decision was in line with the advice of the foreign affairs ministry. As per the data, the number of teachers and other Turkish staff in the chain’s 28 schools and colleges stand at 108 and the total number of their family members at about 400.”

He said the network of Pak-Turk schools and colleges was launched in 1995 under an international NGO registered with the Turkish government. He also mentioned the chain’s 28 schools and colleges were functioning in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. “Some 11,000 students from pre-school to A-levels are currently enrolled in the institutes.”

In August, the management of the chain removed the Turkish principals of their 28 schools and colleges and also dissolved the board of directors which had representation from Turkish nationals to avoid any hardship in future but it failed to provide any fruitful results to them. After seeing no soft corner in federal government, the Turkish staff members moved the Islamabad High Court against orders of the interior ministry to leave the country by November 20. The petition was accepted by the IHC and the hearing of the case began on Thursday.

The Board of Directors issued a public announcement on the official website: “The PakTurk International Schools and Colleges are deeply concerned over the abrupt decision of the government requiring the Turkish teachers, management and their family members numbering to approximately 450 individuals including the school-going children, infants and ladies to leave the country within three days – an extraordinary time constraint – in consequence of non-approval of their requests for extension of visa.”



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