Is Erdogan’s smile worth more than the tears of Pak-Turk students?


Date posted: November 18, 2016

Sarmad Iqbal

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Pakistan on a two-day visit at the invitation of President Mamnoon Hussain. Though President Erdogan had been to Pakistan multiple times, but the latest one was his first bilateral visit to Pakistan since assuming office of the President of Turkey and especially after the failed coup attempt in July, 2016. He also addressed a joint sitting of Pakistani Parliament yesterday which was boycotted by PTI because of their strained relations with the ruling party PML-N. Several cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding have also been signed during Erdogan’s visit. Turkish President Erdogan is an honoured guest to Pakistan this week and I hope his visit augments investment and strengthens ties between the two nations.

However, his visit has coincided with a contentious decision taken by the government here: the Pak-Turk Education Foundation’s Turkish staff and their families have been given three days to leave the country, causing the foundation’s management to move court against the orders. The Pak-Turk schools are administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen, once an ally of Mr Erdogan. However, since July’s failed coup attempt, the Turkish leadership has blamed Mr Gulen for orchestrating the overthrow attempt, resulting in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him.

While the putsch attempt in Turkey may or may not have been incited by Mr Gulen, Islamabad’s capricious decision is gratuitous. There are thousands of Pakistani children who have benefited from these schools since the 1990s, and there are thousands who will now suffer if their teachers are sent home. Since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is very close to Erdogan he will never give thumbs down to him. Pakistani civil society has resolutely opposed the idea of closing the Pak-Turk schools on the ground that the chain is being run by Erdogan’s rival Fethullah Gulen. Finally Nawaz-government has yielded to the pressures of Erdogan government and handed over marching order to over 100 Turkish teachers and their family members.

Around 400 Turks living in Pakistan have been ordered by the Pakistani government to leave in next three days. Isn’t it deplorable that the government has to do so only to bring a radiant smile on Erdogan’s face?

Is Erdogan’s smile worth more than the tears of Pak-Turk students?

There are 130 teachers in schools of Pak-Turk Education Foundation, which have been denied extension in their visas along with their family members.

While watching a short video about Turks in Pakistan posted on Facebook by a friend of mine from Pak-Turk school I came to know about how the expulsion of Turkish teachers and their families from Pakistan will drastically affect all the students at the Pak-Turk schools who have developed a special bond with their Turkish teachers and school fellows. Advocate Hafiz Arafat, whose children go to a Pak-Turk school in Islamabad, said they were concerned. “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 Gulen’s ideology… We have never witnessed anything irregular at these schools,” he said, adding that it was distressing to explain to children the politically motivated decision of deportation of teachers they have grown accustomed to over the years. One of my relatives Mr. Siddique also had his children being enrolled in the Pak-Turk school, Lahore and he told me that how aghast he has been at the news that the interior ministry had directed the Turkish staff to leave the country by November 20. In August this year, Pakistan promised Turkey’s visiting Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that it would honour his request to look into the matter of the Pak-Turk International Schools’ alleged links with US-based cleric Gulen. Now, finding themselves in the midst of a political battle they want nothing to do with, hundreds of Turkish citizens, many of whom have lived in Pakistan since 1995, move to wrap up their lives at a few days’ notice.

A member of Public relations office of Pak Turk schools said:

“Three years ago, Turkish ambassadors were very supportive of our schools. They attended school events and are in our photo albums. Now the ambassador is obeying government orders and saying this. We [the school network] are not doing anything different from what we have been doing for 20 years. The change has come in their stance.”

He also repudiated Erdogan’s assertion that Gulen was behind the bungled coup that attempted to topple his government.

“Why would a man of 78 be interested in coming into power? He believes in democracy, human rights and freedom.”

The association’s education director in Sindh highlights schools’ valuable contribution to the Pakistani education sector and human development. “Our schools give scholarship to 30 per cent of the student body,” he says, adding that most of the scholarship students are from rural areas. “Our students represent Pakistan in Olympiads and competitions in the US, England and seven other countries.” Then he added “Anyone who understands what we are doing is happy with us.” “Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges are extremely concerned over the abrupt decision of the government,” Pak-Turk Education Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Alamgir Khan said in a statement. When I saw my Twitter newsfeed on Wednesday it was trending with hashtags like “#WeWantOurTeachersBack” and “#DontSendMyTeacher”. Pak-Turk students have taken their campaign against expulsion of Turkish teachers to Twitter and other social networking sites. The managements of the three main branches of Pak-Turk International Schools in Karachi were hesitant to speak to journalists. An administrative official at a branch in Sheerin Jinnah Colony said they had decided to pursue a petition in the high court, so they couldn’t interact with the press. A meeting at the Sheerin Jinnah Colony branch concluded that since the upper management was taking a legal route, they would have to keep a low-profile till the matter was resolved. It is said that a pro-government educational foundation called Maarif, established about three months ago in Turkey, would take over administrative control of the schools in Pakistan as soon as the current administration left.

Despite the uncertainty, the Pak-Turk official said, the staff members were “not fearful; rather they are not ready to hand over administrative rights without a legal fight”. There is nothing impolitic with rigorous government inspection if it’s being realized that the teaching mechanism or the syllabus content is fallacious or delusive but Pakistani Government would have done well by comprehending the situation in an unruffled manner, especially because it concerned the fate of so many students who might have been worse off in other schools, given the overall state of education here.

For many Pak-Turk students, the uncertainty of not knowing what would happen to their teachers once they will land in Turkey is disconcerting. Pakistani and Turkish governments must address this issue keeping in mind the future of thousands of students. It’s sad to see how an educational institution has become victim just because someone wants to quench their lust for certain political goals through certain political endeavors. This predatory attitude of dirty politics has left so many students uncertain about their future.

Source: The Nation , November 18, 2016


Related News

Grade 12 Pupil Receives A Bronze Medal At 61st International Maths Ambassador

A GRADE 12 pupil from Soweto has become the country’s first black pupil to garner a bronze medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Kgaogelo Bopape from Horizon International School in Johannesburg earned a bronze medal at the 61st International Mathematical Olympiad.

Turkish schools

About 15 years ago, I attended an international academic conference in a state located within the former Soviet geography. These conferences give us the chance to make on-the-spot observations about changes around the world. There were two Turkish high schools in the city: a state school, run by the Turkish Republic under bilateral agreements, and a private school run by Turkish entrepreneurs inspired by the ideas of well-respected Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. I visited both and talked to students and teachers.

Pregnant behind bars with a two-year-old kid

Elif Aydın, 31, is one of the educators arrested in Turkey over the past three years. She was two-months pregnant when she was sent to prison. The pregnant woman stayed by sharing the same bed with his son in prison for months.

Erdoğan has to respect civil society

ŞAHİN ALPAY Colleagues and friends ask me, “What is the reason for the feud between the government and the Gülen movement and between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen?” This is, briefly, my response. In Turkey the demand for education is very high. Universities are unable to meet the demand and there are […]

Turkish schools help to enhance trade relations with Africa

  BURSA African businessmen and ambassadors stress that they have developed trade relations with Turkey thanks to Turkish schools acting as bridges in their countries, although the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) government is planning to shut down Turkish schools abroad that are affiliated with the movement of Islamic Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen. Speaking […]

Ergenekon’s coup-lovers owe an apology to the Hizmet movement

Since the start of the Ergenekon trials, some of the suspects and their supporters constantly, steadfastly and fiercely argued that the Ergenekon cases were based on fabricated evidence prepared by the Hizmet movement, claiming that the defendants were actually innocent. They now owe an apology to the Hizmet movement.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Imran Khan denounces expected closure of Pak-Turk schools

Why does Öcalan need to approach the Gülen movement?

As Turkey’s war on Gulen escalates, so does impact on Africa

MGK plan in action

Turkish Cultural Night in Philippines

Terrorist investigation against Kimse Yok Mu draws strong reactions

Daily Trust Editorial: In Turkey, fresh affront on democracy

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News