Pakistan expels Turkish teachers at 'Gulen-linked' schools

Sign outside PakTurk International Schools and Colleges in Islamabad. 16 November 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The PakTurk chain runs 28 schools and colleges across Pakistan

Pakistan has ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers at a chain of international schools to leave the country, with their families, by the end of the week.

The teachers work at 28 PakTurk schools which Turkey says are linked to US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen. The schools deny this.

Turkey accuses Mr Gulen of being behind July's failed coup, a claim he rejects.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visiting Pakistan, welcomed the move.

In a statement, PakTurk International Schools and Colleges said the teachers and their families, who totalled about 450 people, had been asked to leave because of "non-approval of their requests for extension of visa".

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Pakistan's interior ministry has so far not commented.

The expulsions are not expected to stop the functioning of the schools as most staff members are Pakistani.

A petition by the school management challenging the decision is to be heard by the Islamabad High Court on Thursday, Pakistani media report.

Mr Erdogan described the decision by Pakistan as "very pleasing".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption President Erdogan, left, met Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif as he arrived for a two-day visit

"They moved rapidly in the direction of ending the [Gulen movement's] presence in Pakistan and toward thwarting their attempts at unrest," he said at Ankara airport as he left for Pakistan.

"As you know, Pakistan has asked persons linked to the organisation to leave the country by November 20. This is very pleasing for us."

According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised the issue of the schools during a visit to Pakistan in August and was told the matter would be investigated.

The Gulen movement, which the Turkish government has declared a terrorist organisation, runs schools all over the world.

Since July's failed coup, Turkey has cracked down on any individuals or groups believed to have links to Fethullah Gulen.

Tens of thousands of people from every level of society have been purged from their jobs, including senior military officers, government officials and school teachers.

Critics of President Erdogan say he has used the coup attempt as a way of removing his opponents.

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