PakTurk school staff challenges expulsion orders

Say petitioners, their families were ‘condemned unheard’

Rizwan Shehzad November 16, 2016
Say petitioners, their families were ‘condemned unheard’. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Officials of the PakTurk Educational Foundation challenged on Wednesday the interior ministry’s orders in the Islamabad High Court.

The ministry recently directed all expatriate staff, teachers, their family members, including children enrolled in Pakistan, to leave the country before November 20.

Fate of PakTurk schools hangs in the balance

The orders were challenged in a petition filed on behalf of Alamgir Khan, the chairman of the PakTurk Educational Foundation (Guarantee) Limited, and two employees, Ramazan Arslan and Murat Ervan, through their counsel.

The directives surfaced just before the arrival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The case will be heard by Justice Aamer Farooq on November 17 (Thursday).

The petition requested the court to set aside the orders and allow the petitioners, the expatriate staff, teachers and their family members to continue their assignments and order the authorities concerned to extend their visas till the end of the education sessions.  Ministry of Interior in its letter stated that the ministry had already issued an exit permit, allowing the foreigners to leave the country without overstay charges.

Currently, they said, the petitioners were providing quality education to at least 11,000 students in 26 schools and educational institutions across Pakistan besides providing free education to deserving students and sending a selection of Pakistani students on full scholarships for completing their higher studies.

The counsel stated that the company provided employment to over 1,000 Pakistani citizens.

The petition stated that the services of expatriate staff had been retained to ensure internationally accepted educational standards.

Pak-Turk schools may not shut down after all

Moreover, the petitioners, their family members, the expatriate staff and their children had already applied for extending visas in June.

The ministry, in its letter issued on November 11, had informed the petitioner that the “request for visa extension was considered at appropriate level but it has not been acceded to”. The letter did not provide any reason for the decision, the petitioner said.

Through another letter issued on November 14, the ministry ordered all foreign nationals who were refused visa extension to leave the country before November 20.

The petitioners said that the impugned orders “are unjust, unfair and arbitrary”, adding that the respondent was “bound to discharge duties justly and fairly as mandated by the Constitution”.

Meanwhile, the sudden eviction order has upset the Turkish families and thousands of parents whose children have been studying in these institutions.

Not only are the teaching and non-teaching staff, living in the country for years, in distress, they also fear arrests and maltreatment once they land in Turkey.

About 450 Turkish family members feel they have been given no time even to pack up and some human obligation and formalities have also not been kept in mind while taking this decision.

“I have been [living] here for the last 16 years and I have four kids who were born here,” said one of the staffers.

“We had applied for visas six months ago and our visas expired three months ago. Initially, embassy officials were hoping our visas will be extended. But after this situation we were expecting that we will not be allowed to stay which we did not expect.”

“Many are medically not in a position to travel. The wife of my friend is in third trimester and doctors have given the dates of after days and advised them not to travel.”

Parents have also expressed concerns that after the expulsion of the Turkish faculty, academic standards would be compromised and many studying on scholarships would not be financially supported any longer. (With additional input from Asma Ghani)

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2016.



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