We are those who follow the lead of Muhammad Iqbal and Fethullah Gülen…
We are the Islam on the flag of Pakistan …
We are the venerated blood on the flag of Turkey…
We are Anatolia…
We are Pakistan…
We are the volunteers of the educational movement originating from Anatolia in 1990s whose paths or hearts crossed Pakistan.
We are the founders, benefactors, directors, teachers, janitors, guards, students, and parents of the PakTurk International Schools & Colleges.
We are the quarter-of-a-century memories, dreams, and yearnings of the Hizmet Movement in Pakistan.
We are a teacher’s answer to ‘A Child’s Prayer’:
“My inner longing manifests on my lips as a prayer.
O Lord! May my life glow like the flame of a candle.
Let my breath disperse the dark that holds the world in thrall.
Let my radiance result in brightness everywhere.
With each breath, may I bring beauty to my land.
Like the blossoms that bring beauty to the meadow.
O Lord! May my life be like the moth.
O Lord! May I always have a love for the flame of knowledge.
May my exertions and my life’s work, the support of the poor be.
To the elderly and the afflicted, may I always loving be.
Allah! Preserve me from all the evil in the world.
Lead me down that path that is the path of righteousness.”
Allama Muhammad Iqbal
W e are the volunteers of the Hizmet Movement, who from 1993 and onwards migrated from Turkey to Pakistan as students, teachers, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs in education and founded and operated the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges.
Each of us has different stories. Some of us boarded on flights to Pakistan right after getting our high school diplomas, no different than being immersed in an exciting dream which we never knew how it would end…
Some of us were teachers and academics newly-graduated from the best universities of Turkey…
In our home country, we witnessed the potency of the education thrust that moved us in the social ladder. Most of us were the witnesses and even the fruits of that driving force. We had a single wish: Being able to spread the beauty we experienced to the world… Naturally, the citizens of Iqbal’s country were among our first interlocutors …
Each school opened tapped the qualified human resources of the Hizmet Movement and made it gradually harder to find volunteers for new projects. The year 1993 in Turkey had witnessed an unnamed coup and all movements with religious leanings had been placed under surveillance…
While faced with an existential threat in the country of its origin, the Hizmet Movement was venturing for existence in Pakistan… Due to all these reasons, PakTurk Schools were almost an impossible dream…
No doubt, the brotherhood between the two countries since the time immemorial would open doors. All in all, each of us was cultivated by Fethullah Gulen Hodjaefendi as the brainmaker of the Hizmet Movement with readings from the Iqbal’s works and chronicles from Iqbal’s vision. All in all, the PakTurk educational institutions were our homage to the people of Pakistan whose grandparents raised funds with all they could find or offered their lives in martyrdom to rush for our assistance during the World War 1 and our National Struggle for Independence… In those days, each donation drive made in Anatolia for the schools to be opened in Pakistan would start with the couplets and excerpts from the poetry and the speech made by Allama Muhammad Iqbal in Lahore to support the Ottoman struggle against foreign powers… During a time when Anatolia was stifled within the confines of its borders, Pakistan – which was then in dreams – rushed to help. This time, it was Anatolia’s turn to convey an ideal which could not be confined within its borders to the dream for Pakistan…
Since the ground was fertile, the dream was exquisite, and the education volunteers from Anatolia were determined to rise to all challenges, the seed that fell on the banks of the Indus in 1995 grew and arborised like the Oak Tree in Osman’s Dream, coming to fruition in 23 years with the PakTurk Educational Institutions in 10 cities with 27 branches. By the end of 2018, PakTurk Educational Institutions had passed out more than 11,000 students with flying colours and had become a giant chain of educational institutions catering to more than 12,000 students from pre-school to college level.
A stately tree becomes more serene and loftier by the swings set up on its branches, the people cooling in its shade, and the messages of love carved on its bark. During its 23-year history, PakTurk Educational Institutions had myriad messages of love carved on its bosom, numerous social welfare projects were conducted in its shade, and numerous medals won from international science Olympiads and educational competitions were hung its branches.
Rising to the humanitarian crises especially during the October 2005 Earthquake and the flash-floods in 2010 and 2011, the PakTurk Educational Institutions proved themselves as a school of thought more than a chain of private schools. When awarded by the then-President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in June 2006 with the prestigious civil service award Sitara-e-Eisaar, those who invested in an ‘impossible dream’ a decade earlier had already received their prize. In Pakistan, we had no dream or aspiration other than serving to Pakistan and Iqbal’s nation.
We always acted on the motto, “What is taught with love lasts forever”. Love was both our guide and message. We also wished our sublime faith Islam to be practised as the faith of love and peace and endeavoured for educating a generation to realize this ideal. Our endeavours drew the attention of The New York Times in 2008. The headline of the article bylined by veteran journalist Sabrina Tavernise read: “PakTurk Schools Offer a Gentler Vision of Islam”. For us, Islam has always been the gentlest of the gentlest; yet, the Muslim lands were - like today - caught in the whirlpool of violence in those days. We too knew it so well that 10 schools and 11,000 students would not come enough for changing the world, but 10,000 people who adopted Islam’s message of love and peace as their guide in life would be able to change many things. We were only endeavouring for educating the leaders of the change...
When the then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited Turkey in 2010, he lauded the country as a rising star in the international fora, and also did not forget to mention the schools in Pakistan while heaping praises on the schools opened by the participants of the Hizmet Movement in Afghanistan and Iraq. PakTurk Educational Institutions had succeeded in becoming one of the exceptional treasures of which the two profoundly-linked countries would jointly feel proud.
When the developments experienced in Turkey since 2014 grew into a witch-hunt against the Hizmet Movement, the volunteers of education who were cultivated from the same fountainhead too experienced hardships in many countries worldwide. Although the people of Pakistan and the courts of law across the country stood up for the PakTurk Educational Institutions until the last moment, the cogwheels of the international relations that prioritized mutual benefits turned the scale, and we were robbed in 2018 of our dream which we nurtured with love for 23 years. We would not be saddened by the transference of the school campuses as long as the PakTurk Educational Institutions kept on serving the future of Pakistan.
Indeed, the schools had already been transferred to a company founded by a group of Pakistani businesspeople, and the educational activities in all PakTurk Schools were mainly operated by the Pakistani educationists.
If those who robbed us of our school campuses had not eyed our memories as well and had not labelled our proud history of 23 years as ‘illegal’, we would have simply departed tearfully like the mother in Iqbal’s poem ‘A Mother’s Dream’ whose tears flowed like rivers... We would have concealed our agony and wept in silence so as not to let our tears douse the candlelight of the PakTurk Educational Institutions...
Yet, the evildoers wish not only have their evil but also the goodness committed by the oppressed forgotten. Those who seized the institutions of the Hizmet Movement in Turkey immediately embarked upon destroying first the Internet archives and later the printed and published histories of those institutions. Each of us was subjected to a procedure of having ourselves razed from the memories of our nation. This memory loss inflicted on the members of our nation cut us deeper than our school buildings which were usurped from us by violating all universal rules of law, our right to legal residence which was revoked overnight, our futures stolen from us within a matter of months, our children being separated from their childhood friends, and we from our neighbours and local friends.
At the present, we – as approximately 1000 volunteers of the Hizmet Movement whose paths or hearts crossed across Pakistan – are spread to the four corners of the earth. The torch of education kindled by the Hizmet Movement continues glowing in many parts of the world. We know very well that we will return to Pakistan one day. In order not to seek to recap an over-and-done history when that day comes, we decided to launch the PakTurkFile website as a heritage from today to the future. This is to thwart the evil plans of the wrongdoers who work for having us forget ourselves.
In order to help the PakTurk Educational Institutions reopen in Pakistan, PakTurkFile will not only recap the events experienced in Pakistan but also those in Anatolia. It will reaffirm the self-sacrifice of the Hizmet-inspired news outlets and humanitarian aid organizations in the wake of the earthquakes, flash-floods, and other natural disasters, and the extent of Hizmet-inspired people’s love for Pakistan manifested in the tears they shed...
It will retell the unforgettable episodes of altruism and evergreen occasions of philanthropy and humanity...
PakTurkFile will act as the bridge between the past and the future of the PakTurk Educational Institutions. Giving it all it got, it will endeavour with its all might to build that very future by itself.
Everyone who worked in the founding, building, and sustaining the PakTurk Educational Institutions across Pakistan and whose path has crossed with Pakistan in this regard has the right and responsibility to provide content to the PakTurkFile website.
1-Deploying the PakTurkFile.org website and making a record of the memoirs chronicling the 23-year history of the PakTurk Educational Institutions.
2-Re-establishing the bonds of communion and affection with the students, parents, employees, benefactors, and well-wishers of the PakTurk Educational Institutions.
3-Building a bridge of affection and communion with approximately 1000 educationists and their families who still cherish Pakistan ardently.
4-Establishing communication channels with our friends in Pakistan via the @PakTurkFileOrg social media accounts.
5-Commissioning short films, printing books, and organizing exhibitions about the history of the PakTurk Educational Institutions.
6-Organizing academic and semi-academic panels, conferences and workshops for discussing the contributions of the PakTurk Educational Institutions to Pakistan and to the dissemination of the gentler understanding of Islam.
7-Filing administrative and legal applications against the Government of Pakistan Ministry of Interior Affairs’ action related to the proclamation of the non-governmental organization titled PakTurk International Cag Education Foundation (PTICEF) – under which the PakTurk Educational Institutions had operated until 2014 – as a banned organization and implementing necessary legal proceedings.
8-Implementing the necessary judicial procedures for calling the responsible to account for the injustices committed by unwarrantedly revoking the permits of the employees of the PakTurk Educational Institutions, abducting by force, or compelling them to leave the country in short notice.
9-Assisting the generation of content to draw attention to the injustices inflicted on the education volunteers working at the PakTurk Educational Institutions in the Pakistani print and other media outlets as well as in the international media, and supervising the publication process.
10-Organizing letter and appeal campaigns to support the future rights-seeking activities.
11-Organizing crowdsourcing campaigns on GoFundMe to generate necessary financial sources for implementing these projects.
You keep your memories fresh simply by narrating them at different occasions.
Even if you may not ready to share them with the public, you may put your memoirs into writing and share them with your close friends and the members of your family.
If you believe your memoirs are worth remembering, you may share them with us for publication.
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If you are not able to draw, please send us a photograph or a video clip or a news clipping from your archive...
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