Turkey asks Pakistan to shut down Gulen-run schools

Islamabad, Aug 2 (IANS) Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday reiterated his country’s request that a chain of “Gulen-run” schools operating in Pakistan should be closed down.

The request by Turkey is part of an international campaign by President Tayyip Erdogan against US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his Islamic transnational religious and social movement.

Erdogan and the Turkish authorities blame the cleric and his followers for orchestrating last month’s failed military coup, in which nearly 300 people were killed.

Addressing a joint press conference here after his meeting with Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Cavusoglu said Turkey had asked Pakistan to close down these schools much before the attempted coup.

“The request was made when President Mamnoon Hussain visited Turkey….”

The Gulen-run schools are functional in many countries, he said.

Sartaj Aziz stressed that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy close brotherly relations. “We are on the same page when it comes to tackling terrorism.”

Sartaj Aziz said the Turkish people had foiled the attempts by a certain section of the Turkish army to stage a coup and overthrow the democratic government of Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildrim.

The Turkish Foreign Minister arrived in the capital on Monday on a two-day official visit for talks with Pakistani authorities on bilateral relations, as well as the regional security situation.

When asked about the Turkish demand for action against Gulen-run institutions, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria had said Islamabad was in contact with Ankara on the issue.

“Pakistan has very close and brotherly ties with Turkey. We are aware of the Turkish concerns. Authorities in both the countries are in touch with each other to address Turkish concerns while also remaining cognisant of the importance of avoiding disruption in the academic activities of a sizeable number of students,” Zakria added.

“In essence, in keeping with the cordial relations between the two countries, we are maintaining a close contact with Turkey to address the issue in a manner that fully addresses Turkey’s concerns as also of the students,” he said.



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