Pakistan has ordered Turkish teachers at schools with alleged links to cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of orchestrating the July coup attempt against him, to leave the country, ahead of the Turkish leader’s visit on Wednesday.
The teachers and their families, totaling about 450 people, were given a three-day notice to leave, PakTurk International Schools and Colleges said in a statement.
PakTurk educates more than 10,000 students in Pakistan and denies any affiliation with U.S.-based cleric Gulen, or his “Hizmet” movement.
Turkey has previously asked Pakistan to shut down any groups in the country with links to the cleric.
“PakTurk International Schools and Colleges are deeply concerned over the abrupt decision of the government requiring the Turkish teachers, management and their family members…to leave the country within three days,” the school said.
It added that staff were asked to leave because of “non-approval of their requests for extension of visa”.
The Islamabad High Court has set a hearing for Thursday on a petition by the school management challenging the decision, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.
Before his departure from Ankara, Erdogan welcomed Pakistan’s actions against what his government calls the Gulenist Terror Organization (FETO).
“They moved rapidly in the direction of ending the (Gulen movement’s) presence in Pakistan and toward thwarting their attempts at unrest,” Erdogan said. “As you know Pakistan has asked persons linked to the organization to leave the country by Nov. 20. This is very pleasing for us.”
Officials said the expulsions will not hinder the day-to-day functioning of the school system, since the vast majority of the 1,500 staff members are Pakistani.
Erdogan will arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday on a two-day visit.
Gulen denies any involvement in Turkey’s failed coup in which more than 230 people were killed.
Turkey has applied pressure to other countries that are home to institutions backed by Gulen, whose “Hizmet” movement runs about 2,000 educational establishments in about 160 countries.