In the context of a failed military coup in Turkey and the ongoing crackdown on supporters of the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s ‘Hizmet Movement’ funded schools also came in the fold of Turkish government’s wrath. The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies generated a poll to assess the public opinion at home. Views in favour for seeking closure of the Pak-Turk schools and criticism on it, were essentially divided into half. 35.7% poll respondents supported the closure of Pak-Turk schools. However, the same number of respondents opposed these steps of the Turkish government deeming it counterproductive and impractical. At the same time, a considerable number of poll respondents, 28.6%, exhibited uncertain expectations regarding this decision.
On 15 July 2016, an attempted coup d’état by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces to depose President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was thwarted by the Government of Turkey. In the aftermath operation, academics, officials in the civil judiciary, and soldiers were detained. Thousands of names were added in the Exit Controls List.
Meanwhile, outside the Turkish territory, the after effects of the failed coup attempt have also reached Pakistan. As a reaction to the coup, President Erdogan imposed a state of emergency in Turkey, stretching to three months, and reaching out to the United States for extraditing Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey, the man allegedly behind the latest coup attempt. However, cleric Gulen has dubbed the events as a ‘staged coup’ by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to gain excessive power in the Turkish bureaucracy by arresting and executing the people from all arrays of opposition from governance to politics.
The Turkish Embassy in Islamabad requested the Government of Pakistan to shut down the Pak-Turk school branches, catering to almost 10,000 students through Fethullah Gulen’s funds for education, since 1995.
The matter of exploiting a non-profit – reputed for educating thousands of children across the globe – now being shut down, is thus far an uncorroborated fact. Moreover, if the orders to shut down Pak-Turk schools come into effect or the chain runs out of funds, the noble cause of provision of low-cost yet quality education to children in Pakistan would be severely affected.