Pakistani authorities have ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers along with their family members to leave the country as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in Islamabad on Wednesday (16 November). All teachers are suspected to be working with schools that have allegedly been linked to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accused of launching a failed coup attempt in July.
Pakistan's interior ministry said that 108 Turkish teachers working at Turkish-Pakistani schools have been asked to leave the country before 20 November. Educational institutions have raised concerns over the "abrupt move".
The interior ministry pointed fingers at the Pakistani foreign ministry for the decision to cancel visas of the visiting teachers. The family members of the staff – who are more than 400 – also face deportation within three days. Over all, there are about 1,200 Pakistani nationals and 134 Turkish citizens employed at 28 educational institutions run under an international NGO, which were reportedly registered with the Turkish government in 1995. More than 10,000 students are studying in these facilities across Pakistan.
"Pak-Turk 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," read a statement from the board of directors of the Pak-Turk chain of educational institutions.
Local reports citing sources claimed that the teachers were allegedly linked to Gulen and the crackdown was requested by Turkish authorities. Islamabad had pledged to look into Ankara's complaints against the chain of schools and colleges in August. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pressed Islamabad to shut down the organisations when he was on an official visit. Islamabad's crackdown coincides with Erdogan's two-day state visit.