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Pakistan Orders Turkish Educators to Leave the Country

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a placard during a pro-government rally at Kizilay main square, in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016.
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a placard during a pro-government rally at Kizilay main square, in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016.
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Pakistan's Interior Ministry has ordered Turkish educators reportedly linked to an opposition Turkish clergyman to leave the country by November 20th.

The order came on Wednesday, shortly before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began an official visit to Islamabad.

The teachers work for an education network known as the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges. It provides education to over 10,000 students across Pakistan.

The group expressed concern about the "abrupt decision" of the Pakistani government. The Interior Ministry has asked over 400 Turkish citizens, including family members, to leave the country.

A ministry official confirmed to VOA that the Turkish educators were told to leave because their visas were out of date and no longer legal.

Erdogan and Gulen

Before going to Islamabad, President Erdogan praised the Pakistani government's actions against what his government calls the Gulenist Terror Organization.

"Just like Turkey, Pakistan is carrying out a relentless fight against terror. Turkey supports Pakistan’s battle until the end," Erdogan said.

Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic clergyman from Turkey. He now lives in exile in the American state of Pennsylvania.

Gulen is the leader of a movement that operates schools around the world. Erdogan accuses him of trying to take control of the Turkish state, an accusation the clergyman denies.

The PakTurk schools deny any ties to Gulen or his "Hizmet" movement. Turkish officials accuse the group of plotting to overthrow the government last July.

Since the failure of the overthrow attempt, Erdogan has launched a campaign against Gulen's supporters in Turkey.

Turkish officials have also urged other countries to close schools that may have links to the cleric – from Nigeria to Indonesia and Cambodia.

Future of the PakTurk Schools

On Thursday, the Turkish leader praised the Pakistani government for supporting him against the suspected followers of Gulen. Erdogan spoke during a visit to the parliament building in Islamabad. “We will eliminate this terrorist organization before it harms Pakistan,” he said.

The Associated Press reported that more than 150 PakTurk students demonstrated in the Pakistani capital as he arrived at parliament. Separately, hundreds of students reportedly blocked a main road in the eastern city of Lahore to protest the expulsion orders.

“Don’t play with our future,” a student told Pakistani Capital News TV.

I’m John Russell.

Ayaz Gul wrote this story for John Russell adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

abrupt – adj. very sudden; not expected; brief

relentless – adj. continuing without becoming weaker