ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government is mulling over action against a school-chain being allegedly run by Gulen Movement but it may take some time.
Utv Pakistan Report
Gulen Movement is led by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based religious leader accused of plotting failed military coup in Turkey last week.
According to sources in Foreign Office, the action may take time as thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in 21 elite private schools across the country and their career could be affected by an abrupt shut down.
While addressing a press briefing in Islamabad on Friday, Turkish Ambassador in Pakistan Sadik Babur Girgin had urged Pakistan to “prevent activities of Gulen group”.
Sources said the Turkish government had raised the matter in high level talks with Islamabad even before the recent coup attempt.
They added that it was not easy for Pakistan to close down all 21 schools spread across the country as they are a well-established network catering to a large number of students.
However after the failed coup, the Turkish call for action has gained urgency and strength and owing to close ties between the two governments, Islamabad feels compelled to help Ankara on the issue.
“We will extend full cooperation to the government of Turkey to address their concerns in this regard,” a spokesman for Pakistani Foreign office told The News.
He said that efforts would be made to find an amicable solution to the problem to the satisfaction of the Turkish government.
In Pakistan, Gulen runs a network of about 21 schools and an intercultural dialogue platform, in addition to having business stakes. His organisations and businesses have been operating in Pakistan for decades.
According to a Turkish Newspaper Daily Sabah, Gulen Movement-affiliated schools campaign and brainwash thousands of students against the current, democratic, Turkish regime.
The paper ran a story a few days ago warning that the ties between the two countries could get tense if Islamabad dragged its feet on the issue of action against these elite schools.
It said the 21 schools in Pakistan were hub of conspiracies and were producing students brainwashed and were ready to rise up with the Gulen Movement.
The paper claimed there were hundreds of applications against PakTurk Schools filed by parents in the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) in Islamabad but no action had been taken so far possibly due to “the strong influence of the Gulenists in Pakistan”.
It added that PakTurk Schools had decided to change their name to avoid any legal action or possible closure.
When contacted, Minister for CADD Dr Tariq Fazal Chauhdry said any decision regarding the schools would be taken by the foreign ministry.
“We have yet to receive any instruction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Interior regarding closure of these schools. We will wait for the instruction to move further on the issue,” he said.
He acknowledged that thousands of students were admitted to these schools saying it was not possible to shut them down immediately.
However on its website PakTurk International Schools and Colleges claimed that it had no link with Gulen Movement.
“We feel it imperative to clarify that the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges in Pakistan are a philanthropic and non-political endeavour in the country organised and established for human development, inter alia, in the field of education for the benefit of all Pakistanis, especially the poor, needy and deserving sections of the society,” the clarification reads.
“We are deeply concerned by allegations made by a certain section in the social media trying to connect the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges in Pakistan with Fethullah Gülen or the political movement ascribed to him in the wake of the recent unfortunate and reprehensible events in Turkey. “We do unequivocally clarify that the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges in Pakistan have no affiliation or connection with any political individual or any movement or organisation, whether political, religious or denominational, nor do we have a financial relationship with any movement.”
“We consider it important to underline that management of the schools and colleges is driven solely on humanitarian considerations and would see with concern any indication to club the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges with any individual or movement and, in such a case, reserve right to invoke appropriate legal action.”