Ankara discusses closure of Gülen schools with Pakistan

Ankara discusses closure of Gülen schools with Pakistan

Ankara discusses closure of Gülen schools with Pakistan

Fethullah Gülen has been living in a self-exile in the United States for 15 years. CİHAN photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Pakistan’s provincial Punjab administration to shut down its schools linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement.

“The same thing [the closure of schools] could happen in Pakistan. The chief minister of the Punjab province will meet me tomorrow [Friday] night,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview late March 6, indicating that the government’s campaign to rein in the activities of the Gülen movement would continue abroad.

The meeting between Erdoğan and Shahbaz Sharif was set to take place late March 7 in Istanbul. In his TV interview, Erdoğan said the only topic of the meeting would be the activities of these schools in Pakistan. There are 18 Gülen-affiliated schools in Pakistan under the name Pak-Turk schools.

The prime minister was also asked whether he had information about the status of such schools in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, as there have been claims that they were banned in these countries. He said he was unaware of these developments but he knew about “disturbances” affecting these schools in “some countries.”

In Azerbaijan, 13 schools, one university and 13 prep schools had been operating. Two years ago all of these institutions were transferred to the Azerbaijan state oil company, Socar, but preserved their management, teachers and curriculum without any change. Diplomatic sources said these schools were still operating and there were no changes in the administration’s view on them.

Pro-government newspapers have reported that the Gülen community has succeeded in “infiltrating” the Azeri state and is influencing the decision-making process of Turkey’s oil-rich neighbor.

Obama ‘got the message’

Erdoğan has said he conveyed to U.S. President Barack Obama his concerns about the activities of the Islamic scholar, who lives in self-exile in Pennsylvania.

“I told Obama [during a recent phone conversation] that the person who is responsible for the unrest in Turkey lives in your country, in Pennsylvania. I told him this clearly. I said, ‘I expect what’s necessary [to be done].’ You have to take the necessary stance if someone threatens my country’s security,” Erdoğan said during an interview on private broadcaster ATV late March 6.

“[Obama] looked at it positively. ‘We got the message,’ he said,” he added.

Erdoğan accuses U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen over the leaks and the massive graft probe that has engulfed his government since mid-December.

Following graft probes that began on Dec. 17, 2013, implicating the Turkish government in massive levels of corruption, Erdoğan launched a massive struggle to purge Gülen’s sympathizers from the civil service.

The prime minister also said during the interview a Red Notice from Interpol may be sought for Gülen.
“Why not? You have to prepare the basis in the first place. And then prepare a thorough bulletin if you do,” he said.

Obama and Erdoğan held their first phone conversation in six months on Feb. 18.

The Gülen movement has denied any links with the probes and the leaks, but has repeatedly slammed the government over the purges.