LAHORE - A Turkish family went missing from their rented house at Wapda Town in the wee hours of Wednesday.

The missing family has been staying here on the asylum-seeker certificate of United Nations High Commission for Refugees for the past year.

Reportedly, some unidentified people stormed the house of former Pak-Turk School director Mesut Kacmaz at about 2:10am on Tuesday and held up the family.  One of his colleagues, who was residing a nearby house, attempted to rescue them but he was too ‘kidnapped’. He was freed later.

A senior police officer told The Nation that they were ‘looking’ into the matter. However, he said that no case was registered with the police as yet.

On the other hand, Turkish teacher Fatih Avci, approached the police concerned but they refused to register an FIR.

In November 2016, the federal government directed the Turkish schools staff to leave Pakistan on the request of Turkey. Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Sadik Babur Girgin claimed that these schools were linked with Fatehullah Gulen, a US-based cleric, who is being accused of plotting the July coup in Turkey by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called for the immediate release of missing family.

The family’s certificate allows them to stay in Pakistan till November, 2017.

The HRCP said: “The family was roughed up, hooded, handcuffed and taken in a wagon. They were taken to a well-furnished house where several other interrogators were also present. A Turkish neighbour who protested was also picked up but later released. He witnessed the entire episode including the abduction and brutality meted out to the Kacmaz family.”

The commission urged the government to immediately release the Kacmaz family and desist from deporting them; as there are credible reports of other Turkish educationists being arrested upon their arrival in Turkey and their subsequent torture.

Sources in the Park Turk School said Kacmaz has been living in Pakistan for more than 12 years. There are 17 Turkish families living in Lahore and 70 families in other cities of Pakistan.

Kacmaz has been very active person of the Turkish community based in Lahore.

“The abduction of high profile Turkish nationals raised eyebrows among community members based in Lahore. We are afraid of other Turkish families’ future and this is about the future of Pakistan-Turkey relations,” a close aide of Kacmaz told The Nation.

Kacmaz’s was chairman of Pak Rumi Forum, a forum which has been designated to promote the peace, tolerance and inter-faith and inter-religion harmony.

“Mr Kacmaz used to organise session, forums and dialogue at the Rumi forum. Government officials and bureaucrats used to attend those sessions in the past. It is worrisome that personality like Kacmaz who has spent his 12 years in Pakistan now has been abducted,” he said.

Rumi Forum was supported by ‘Hizmet Movement’ inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen. Last year in July a coup attempt was foiled by Turkish government. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused the coup leaders of having links with Gülen movement. The movement was later declared a terrorist organization by Turkey.

Pak-Turk School Director Orhan told The Nation the fate of other families is at stake after the incident. “We are going to hold a press conference today (Thursday) to raise our concerns at the incident,” he said.

He said Kacmaz spent the best part of his life in Pakistan for promotion of peace and harmony and treating a person like this is not a good gesture at all. He called upon Pakistan government to intervene for immediate recovery.

An UNHCR official on condition of anonymity said UNHCR provided asylum certificate is legal document and Turkish family has legal right to stay in Pakistan until expiry of asylum seeker certificate.