While the relations of Turkey and Pakistan have significantly improved in the last four years due to the diplomatic efforts from both sides, but for some Turkish nationals living in Pakistan has become a hassle. After President Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan, the Turkish faculty of the Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan was asked to immediately leave the country. The action was taken because these people, precisely the schools, were accused of having links with Fatehullah Gulen; the American cleric who was accused of plotting the coup against President Erdogan in July last year.
The faculty was not given any significant time to manage their situation. In fact one of the directors of the Pak-Turk Schools, Mesut Kacmaz, applied for an asylum certificate of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). He had been staying in Wapda Town (Lahore) since December 2016, until he and his family – including two school going girls - were abducted from their homes on Wednesday 27 September. His neighbour was also picked up but then eventually released. He confirmed that the abductors were quite professional, knew what they were doing, and carried standardised equipment.
While many facts are still unknown and the law enforcement says that they are investigating, the incident raises a lot of curious questions. The Turkish President has been hounding countries around the world to take action against Gulen’s organisation – to varying success. The controversies that lead to the firing of US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn were centred on his lobbying efforts on behalf of Turkey to extradite Fatehullah Gulen from the US. Erdogan has been relentless, and not afraid of using force to go after Gulen. Crucially, the current Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has strong relations with the Turkish president, and has already taken excessive and arbitrary actions inside Pakistan at his request
In this environment, is this abduction yet another attempt by the plain-clothed security officials – and by extension the government – to appease Erdogan? Or was this an action taken by Turkish operatives inside Pakistan?
Either way, the government has gone too far. Closing off the school system in such a manner was bad enough already. Now, if we have moved towards abduction of not just the individual but his family, the government has become an oppressor. This action is wrong, unacceptable and illegal.
The family had applied for asylum. That meant that we had to ensure their security and survival. Our law enforcement agencies need to recover the abducted family immediately and ensure that other Turkish asylum seekers are protected too.