Pak­istan or­ders 400 Turks to leave ahead of Er­do­gan’s visit

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ahead of a visit by Turkey’s pres­i­dent, Is­lam­abad or­dered 400 Turk­ish na­tion­als af­fil­i­ated with a chain of in­ter­na­tional schools in Pak­istan to leave the coun­try within 72 hours, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

The move was an­nounced on the web­site of the Pak-Turk In­ter­na­tional chain of schools and col­leges, and con­firmed by two school of­fi­cials. Both of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, say­ing they feared for their safety when they re­turn to Turkey.

Turk­ish of­fi­cials have ac­cused the school of be­ing af­fil­i­ated with the move­ment of US-based dis­si­dent cleric Fethul­lah Gulen. Er­do­gan ar­rived in Is­lam­abad later yes­ter­day for a two-day visit and was re­ceived by Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and his fam­ily.

The Turk­ish leader has ac­cused Gulen sup­port­ers of stag­ing a failed July 15 coup at­tempt. His govern­ment later seized hun­dreds of so­cial, ed­u­ca­tional and health care fa­cil­i­ties and sacked thou­sands of em­ploy­ees on sus­pi­cion of work­ing for Gulen. The Pak-Turk In­ter­na­tional op­er­ates 28 cam­puses through­out Pak­istan. Of those be­ing asked to leave, 108 are staff mem­bers and the rest are fam­ily mem­bers.

Er­do­gan wel­comed Pak­istan’s de­ci­sion at the Ankara air­port be­fore leav­ing for the trip, prais­ing Is­lam­abad for show­ing sol­i­dar­ity with Turkey against Gulen’s move­ment - which Turkey has des­ig­nated a ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion. “They moved rapidly in the di­rec­tion of end­ing the (Gulen move­ment’s) pres­ence in Pak­istan and to­ward thwart­ing their at­tempts at un­rest,” Er­do­gan said. “As you know, Pak­istan has asked per­sons linked to the or­ga­ni­za­tion to leave the coun­try by Nov. 20. This is very pleas­ing for us.”

One of the Pak-Turk school of­fi­cials de­nied that the in­sti­tu­tion was in any way re­lated to Gulen. He said school was reg­is­tered lo­cally and ful­filled all lo­cal le­gal re­quire­ments. The other of­fi­cial said the school will chal­lenge the de­ci­sion be­cause it wasn’t pos­si­ble for so many peo­ple to leave on such short no­tice. Both of­fi­cials said the ex­pul­sions will not hin­der the day-to-day func­tion­ing of the school, since the vast ma­jor­ity of the 1,500 staff mem­bers are Pak­istani.

Er­do­gan said Turkey’s ed­u­ca­tional au­thor­i­ties would help Pak­istan over­come any prob­lems the ex­pul­sion may cause. “We will do what­ever we can to en­sure that there is no void or suf­fer­ing as a re­sult of the ouster of this or­ga­ni­za­tion from the coun­try,” he said. A Pak­istani In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for comment from The As­so­ci­ated Press.

ANKARA: Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, sec­ond from right, in­spects a mil­i­tary honor guard at Esen­boga Air­port be­fore board­ing his plane for a two-day of­fi­cial visit to Pak­istan yes­ter­day.

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