LAHORE:13 December:The families of Turkish teachers, who were affiliated with Pak-Turk schools and could not leave Pakistan due to passport issues, say they were being pushed to the brink of starvation. Ömer Faruk, a Turkish teacher who taught at a Pak-Turk school for several years, narrated his ordeal to The Express Tribune in a tone that clearly expressed fear, nervousness and distrust. He said there were 112 families living throughout Pakistan. “Now only 14 are left behind as they could not travel abroad due to passport issues. As many as 40 families were living in Islamabad and now only five are left,” he added. Faruk said he wanted to leave the country due to the harassment he and his family had to face. “Some unidentified powers are harassing and intimidating us through different means. The families are leaving for anywhere in the world, even Africa,” he said. “After the ‘abduction’ of former Pak-Turk schools director Kamcaz’s family, development in court cases and recent harassment, we believe that even Africa is safer for the families of teachers affiliated with Pak-Turk schools. Many of those who left the country have landed jobs there and feel secure,” Faruk said. SHC extends stay for Turkish teachers Faruk said he also wanted to leave the country immediately, but could not do so as his daughters did not have a valid passport. “We went to the Turkish embassy and they did not respond. We were here on a UN asylum seekers’ certificate. With the hope that we would be able to travel abroad after receiving refugee status, the officials at UN asked us to wait,” Faruk said while explaining his state of uncertainty. “Those left behind are fast running out of resources and money. It has even become difficult for them to meet their daily needs.” “I applied for the job of a translator at a private university, but was refused and asked to bring my security clearance first,” he said. “We have never been involved in any illegal activity in Pakistan. During my stay of over a decade in the country, I was never issued a traffic violation ticket,” Faruk remarked. “If anyone wanted to help us, they were stopped through calls by ‘unidentified persons’,” he added. Faruk said a businessman had promised him to help him financially, but later he told him that he was being forced to stop helping Turkish families. “Even my daughter was not allowed to sit in a foreign school’s exam. When we asked the reason, the school management told us that my daughter had no valid passport.” “My daughter has to suffer for the crimes she never committed,” he said. Faruk said he was always loved by the people of Pakistan. He never faced any issue with them. “There are some corrupt people at government level who are doing this to please some other corrupt people,” he added. “We are using our savings and after that we will have to sell our valuables to survive as long as we could,” he remarked with remorse. LHC orders protection for Turkish teachers in Lahore “I have not bought any new clothes in two years. We have not been to a restaurant. I even wore old clothes on Eid. Whenever my children demand something, I would tell them that I’ll get them when I get my salary. They have list of demands ready waiting for my salary,” Faruk added. “Despite this gloomy state of affairs, we still have hopes. The day will come when Pakistan will seek an apology from us (teachers) for humiliating, abducting and forcing us to die in return for our noble services,” he said. “We were running the best schools and providing modern education to their children. I was settled in a developed country. I gained experience there and came here just to serve.” “My friends had asked me to reconsider my decision of going to Pakistan. I came here only to provide best education to the children of Pakistan. I did not deserve this treatment,” Faruk concluded. Name has been changed to protect identity Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2017.