The Pakistani government is moving toward shutting down schools and colleges affiliated with the U.S.-based imam Fethullah Gülen's movement. He is among Turkey's most wanted suspects and Turkey is exerting effort to obtain an international arrest warrant for him since the movement attempted to overthrow the government by infiltrating the police, judiciary and other key state institutions. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pushed the Pakistani government to join in efforts against the movement through the closure of Gülen schools in Pakistan. The Pak-Turk schools are widespread in the country.
There are 21 Gülen-affiliated schools facing closure from the government. There are hundreds of students enrolled in these schools as parents have the general perception that the schools are administered by the Turkish government, even though they are not. The schools were established back in 1995 and run under the auspices of the Pak Turk Foundation. Pak-Turk schools are among the most expensive private institutions in Pakistan, where the private school industry has become a cartel mafia, fleecing parents. Pak-Turk's administration claims they are playing a vital role in helping make relations between Turkey and Pakistan stronger and promoting the Turkish language. However, people in Pakistan are not aware of the Gülen Movement's actions to undermine Erdoğan's legitimate rule. Gülen schools and colleges are spreading the Gülenist agenda and preaching, which is an open contradiction to modern Turkish values and lifestyles.
Pakistan is a country that already has a conservative mindset as well as strong divisions between certain communities, making it all the more alarming that Gülen schools are promoting a culture of segregated society in the country. The schools have a strong concept of segregation between males and female students, and they even practice this in their private lives. According to Gülen school students, they are called on for a couple of days to stay at the school and are not allowed to go home in the combine study circle classes, which is actually an intensive indoctrination of the Gulenist ideology. During these classes, Gülen's preaching and lectures are delivered by the Turkish teachers. DVDs and cassettes containing speeches and lectures by Gülen are distributed among the students, and those students who listen more are awarded special prizes up to as much as 5,000 RS (TL 75, 212).
Exploiting the ideology of the Islamic brotherhood and Pakistani philanthropists, Pak-Turk school higher-ups enjoy dozens of acres of land throughout the country. In the federal capital of Islamabad, two major properties were given to the schools at very cheap rates, as proof of the generosity of the Pakistani government. In the name of Islamic brotherhood, the Pakistani government has facilitated Gülen schools in Pakistan. Gülen schools and colleges have been already banned and closed in Central Asian countries and in Azerbaijan. However in Pakistan, despite repeated attempts by Erdoğan, there has been no action taken by the current regime. Recently there were strong messages passed by the president to his Pakistani counterpart when he visited Istanbul. President Mamnoon Hussain met with Erdoğan on April 13 in Istanbul. High level sources told Daily Sabah that the president sent a strong message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to watch the activities of Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan and to shut them down. Sources in Islamabad revealed that the government is trying to make a roadmap for the elimination of Pak-Turk schools from Pakistani private school sectors. Controversy in Pakistani private schools is already at a high with rising fees and security major concerns for the students and parents. However, the education system of the majority of private schools is not good, while Pak-Turk schools do not have qualified teachers. The current government has already launched a massive crackdown against private schools in Pakistan that have failed, because private schooling in Pakistan is big business, strongly backed by influential people. However, the government is trying to curb Gülen schools with a new strategy that would not harm the integrity of the government regarding education.
In 2014, Erdoğan asked the Pakistani government to take strong action against Pak-Turk schools, and at that time he expressed his views in a televised interview before his meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and at that time the sole item on the agenda with Sharif was the activities of Gülen schools in Pakistan. The friendly relations between Erdoğan and Sharif could be distressing for the existence of Pak-Turk schools and colleges in the country.
When Daily Sabah contacted Pak-Turk's senior administration in Islamabad for comment about the Gülen schools issue in Pakistan, a staff member named Syeda Faiza called and asked for the query to be sent through email, which was sent immediately. However, the Gulen school administration has so far been reluctant to respond concerning the situation of Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan.