The federal government’s statement to the Lahore High Court (LHC) regarding the status of Turkish teachers and children associated with the Pak-Turk Schools is nothing short of a relief. On Wednesday, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf told LHC that deportation was not on the cards until the United Nations decided on the refugee applications submitted by faculty members of the schools.

It is unfortunate that one of the few decent schooling networks in the country is suffering due to a political spat between Turkish leaders. The Pak-Turk schools are a casualty regardless of what changes in the status of Turkish nationals currently residing in Pakistan. One thing that is clear is that even if the Turkish nationals get reprieve in the form of refugee status, they will no longer be working for the schools, and a change in management and faculty mean that the quality is likely to drop in the immediate term.

This is the first time the government has publicly asserted that Turkish nationals associated with the Pak-Turk schools will not be deported until their status is resolved by the UN. The previous decision to placate a friendly government has been thwarted by UN procedures due to pending refugee applications, which is a smart move on the Turkish nationals residing here – the Pakistani government cannot risk rankling the international body over alliances.

This change of heart is certainly positive, if not delayed. The government is starting to see sense and is finally on the right side of this issue. Short-term policy gains are not incentive enough to allow potential human rights abuses at the hands of a near-authoritarian government.

For Pakistan, the refugee applications could not have come any sooner. What this does is that it gives Pakistan an opportunity to not get into an uncomfortable situation, because ignoring UN rules and procedures could result in censure from the international community and Turkey understands this as well. Since Pakistan does not have to give Turkey an outright refusal, bowing out with grace could not have come any sooner.

Whatever the Erdogan government may be for Turkey, both states are close allies, and neither can afford to let anything come between this relationship. Since the matter is out of Pakistan’s hands now, the Turkish government cannot treat this as an affront, which works well for us.