Pakistani students are seen at the campus of the private PakTurk International Schools and Colleges in Islamabad on November 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Pakistani authorities have ordered dozens of teachers affiliated with US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen to leave the country ahead of a visit to Islamabad by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
School and government officials confirmed on Wednesday that 130 teachers from the private PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, along with other school staff and their families, have to leave Pakistan
by November 20.
The schools and colleges are supported by Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for having masterminded the failed coup of July 15. Gulen, who runs an extensive network of schools and cultural centers in various countries, denies any involvement.
Erdogan hailed Pakistan’s decision before departing for Islamabad on Wednesday, saying the deportations “show how much importance Pakistan attaches” to Turkey’s purge of people linked to Gulen.
Turkey has arrested over 37,000 people and discharged more than 100,000 others from the army and public institutions since Ankara launched a massive crackdown on suspected coup plotters. The widening clampdown has been met with huge international ire, as many in the West accuse the government of acting beyond the rule of law.
The authority in charge of Gulen’s schools decried as “abrupt” Pakistan’s deportations, saying the decision could affect up to 450 staffers and family members and thousands of students in the country.
“We want to ensure the students and their parents that educational activities at all branches of PakTurk educational institutions across Pakistan are continuously operational,” said a statement on the website of PakTurk International Schools and Colleges.
A local official said about 10,000 students in 28 schools and colleges around Pakistan would be affected by the deportations. He said local staffers had replaced the deported teachers in the schools.