Govt yet to submit reply in Pak-Turk schools’ petition against closure

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Court orders interior ministry’s senior official to appear in person

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered a senior official of the Interior Ministry to appear in person before the court after the Ministry failed to submit a written reply before the court in a case pertaining to the Pak-Turk institutions.
Justice Aamer Farooq directed the Joint Secretary Interior Ministry here Monday to appear before the court on September 22.
In the first week of August, the court had given three-week time to submit a reply but the deputy attorney general (DAG) on Monday sought more time to submit a reply.
Previously, the state counsel had sought time to seek instructions from the ministry of interior, foreign affairs and others in a petition moved by Pak-Turk Education Foundation. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) submitted a report before the court saying the foundation was registered with them.
The government had to submit a reply on Monday over the Pak-Turk schools whose fate hangs in balance after the Turkish government requested closure of all the institutions backed by the Fethullah Gulen-inspired Hizmet movement.
The counsel for foundation contended that the membership of the company comprised Turk and Pakistani nationals and neither Turkish nor Pakistani government had any role or share in the petitioner company.
The counsel maintained that the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges in Pakistan had no affiliation nor connection with any political individual, movement or organization, and had no financial relationship with any movement.
On last hearing, the legal adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Riffat Butt, and the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Azhar Amin Chaudhry, had appeared in person before the court and submitted that “there was no decision taken yet to change the management of petitioner company or taking over the same by Government of Pakistan.”
He had sought time to file report and para-wise comments on behalf of the ministry of interior, foreign affairs and the secretary of the Capital Administration & Development Division CADD.
In addition to the CADD, ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, the petitioner has also made the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Chief Commissioner ICT, IGP ICT, Private Education Institution Regulatory Authority, and the chief secretaries of the Punajb, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as respondents in the case.
Around 11,000 students and 1,500 teachers will directly be affected if the 23 Pak-Turk schools are closed. The petitioner has also prayed the court to allow it keep operating without interference. While citing the apprehensions that Pakistani government would either close the schools or transfer their assets to some other entity, the counsel has also prayed that the schools network should not be taken over by a third party. The court will now take up the case on September 22.

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