Police in Pakistan allegedly handcuffed, hooded and transported to a secret facility a Turkish school official, Mesut Kacmaz and his family. Human rights groups say they were abducted by members of the state intelligence agencies and have filed court petitions seeking their recovery.
The Lahore High Court ordered the interior ministry to seek a reply from those agencies as to whether the family is in their custody. It also ordered the government to provide protection for other Turkish educators and halt their deportations.
But police officials told the court they had no information about the family.
As reported by The Washington Post, the court action came at a moment of escalating diplomatic tension between the United States and the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has ties to the teacher issue.
Last week, the Trump administration suspended the issuance of non-immigrant visas in Turkey after the arrest of an employee of the US Consulate in Istanbul.
As for the teacher allegedly abducted in Pakistan, he was an educator at a chain of 28 PakTurk Foundation schools across Pakistan that were shut down last year at the request of the Erdogan government.
Since then, the teachers have remained in Pakistan under temporary court orders and UN protection. About 11,000 Pakistani students attended the schools, considered among the best in Pakistan, reported The Washington Post.
They are also a project of the Gulenist movement, led by Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan, a close ally of Pakistan, accused Gulen and his followers in Turkey of provoking an attempted coup in July 2016. He then carried out a broad crackdown on Gulenists and other dissidents and asked Pakistan to deport the teachers.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, asked during a recent visit to Washington about the alleged abductions and the treatment of the Turkish teachers, said that he had no information about the Kacmaz case but that the teachers would be deported after delays granted by Pakistani courts and UN officials expire.
“You’d do the same thing in America after someone’s visa expires. You deport them,” he said in a meeting with journalists at the Pakistan embassy. “This is something which is internationally accepted. That is the only reason,” Asif added. “Otherwise, why would we do… such a horrendous thing, the kidnapping of a family?”