Govt mulling over action against Gulen schools

Staff Reporter

Islamabad—Pakistan government is mulling over action against a school-chain being allegedly run by Gulen Movement but it may take some time, sources said.
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 said. 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.

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