KARACHI: A division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) adjourned hearing on a fresh plea of the Turkish teachers against their possible deportation.
The two-judge bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, adjourned the hearing on the request of the additional attorney-general to wait for the decision already reserved by another bench in the same matter.
The other division bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, had reserved its order on May 23 last year after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the Turkish teachers and provincial and federal law officers against their likely deportation to Turkey from Pakistan.
Ankara had requested Islamabad to close down the Pak-Turk Schools run by Fethullah Gulen, who had been accused by the Turkish government of instigating a coup attempt in the country in July, 2016.
In November 2016, Islamabad, through the interior ministry, had ordered the Turkish staff of the educational network to leave Pakistan, rejecting their applications for extension of visas. After this decision by the Centre, parents of the students of the Pak-Turk Schools approached the court against their possible deportation, which has granted a stay against the deportation of the Turkish staff ever since.
After the court reserved its order on the plea against deportations, the Turkish families filed a fresh petition against alleged abduction and forcible deportation of their colleague in Lahore.
The judges were informed that a former principal of a Pak-Turk school, Mesut Kacmez, and his family members were whisked away by men in plainclothes from their residence in Lahore on September 27.
Kacmez, with his wife and two young daughters, was reportedly taken to an undisclosed location, they said, quoting media reports.
The petitioners said an attempt was also recently made to kidnap the family of another Turkish national in Khairpur. They pleaded to the court to restrain the federal and provincial authorities from deporting them to Turkey.
A direction was sought for the interior ministry to put the names of all the employees of the Pak-Turk schools on the Exit Control List to stop their deportation.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Additional Attorney-General Salman Talibuddin disclosed that the Turkish teachers and their families had filed an application with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) seeking asylum. Therefore, the UN refugee agency had allowed them to live in Pakistan till November 2018, he added.
He recalled that another SHC bench had reserved its verdict on a similar petition against the petitioners’ deportation and pleaded to the court to adjourn the hearing till the pronouncement of the reserved order.