–PTEF says MoI refused to allow aircraft carrying Turk intel officers to land in Pakistan in 2017
–Urges SC to bar Pakistani govt from getting involved in political conflict between Turkish govt and its political rivals
The Pak-Turk Education Foundation (PTEF), in its review petition filed in the Supreme Court, has claimed that the Ministry of Interior in 2017 had refused to allow a plane carrying Turkish intelligence officers, who were planning to conduct an operation against Turkish nationals in Pakistan, to land in the country.
The PTEF made the comments in a review petition against the top court’s decision in December last year to declare PTEF a “proscribed organisation”. The apex court in its verdict had also handed Turkiye Maarif Foundation (TMF) the custody of the schools under PTEF.
PTEF informed the Supreme Court that the political conflict between the Turkish government and its political rivals should not be fought in Pakistan.
“As a sovereign state with longstanding relationship of friendship and brotherhood with the Turkish people, Pakistan ought not to become a battleground for settling domestic political scores of the ruling Turkish government with its political rivals,” it argued in the petition.
“In this backdrop, it was essential to err on the side of caution and not slap PTEF with the label of terror thereby implicating and stigmatising the Pakistani citizens who have committed themselves to serve the cause of education under the banner of Pak-Turk Schools and Colleges,” it added.
“As a matter of fact, the Government of Turkey has been pressurising the government of Pakistan to declare PTEF as terrorist organisation since 2015 without providing any documentary evidence or involvement of officials related to the PTEF in any alleged terrorist activities.”
The petition, filed through PTEF’s lawyer Babar Sattar, argued that Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), owing to the lack of evidence, did not accept Turkey’s demands.
The petition claimed that National Crisis Management Cell of the Ministry of Interior via a letter dated 10.07.2017 directed all chief secretaries not to allow a special Boeing 777 aircraft to land at Islamabad or Lahore airports. The petition further claimed that two senior Turkish intelligence officials and 20 national police guards were arriving in the country on the aircraft to conduct intelligence-based operations against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s rivals in Pakistan. Further, the interior ministry then requested MoFA to issue a warning to Turkey.
In July 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a “diplomatic warning” to the Turkish ambassador in the country, explaining that Pakistan was given “fake reports” regarding threats posed by Turkish nationals residing in Pakistan associated with Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen or other opposition leaders.
The review petition disclosed that in the warning letter, Turkey was informed that further submission of such “fake reports” would be regarded as dishonesty on part of the Turkish government.
It further said that funding for the PTEF schools is given by Pakistani nationals and Turkish philanthropists in addition to funds collected via school fees. The petition further argued that a fair trial was not accorded before the previous verdict.