Mobs in Bishkek target foreign students

Pakistanis among those attacked, first batch land in Lahore from Kyrgyz capital

​ Our Correspondents May 18, 2024


Groups of assailants have broken into foreign students’ housing in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, following a May 13 brawl between locals and Egyptian nationals, according to media reports on Saturday.

Some demonstrators blocked traffic and vandalised buildings. Security forces have made several arrests, according to a statement issued by the Kyrgyz foreign ministry.

Even Pakistani students were among those attacked by the locals in the mob attacks and around 30 of them landed in Lahore on Saturday in a flight from Bishkek. The first batch of students was received by Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructed his deputy, Ishaq Dar, who also holds the portfolio of the foreign affairs ministry, and Federal Minister on Kashmir Affairs Amir Muqam to travel to Bishkek on Sunday (today).

Initially, the premier decided to send only Muqam to Kyrgyzstan but later asked Dar to accompany him. The two ministers will leave for Bishkek on Sunday morning by a special plane, read a statement issued by the PM’s Office.

According to the statement, the premier spent the whole day reviewing the situation and was also in touch with the Pakistani ambassador in Bishkek.

It added that despite the satisfactory situation now, it had been decided to send this delegation to provide the necessary support and facilities to the Pakistani students.

The two ministers will also review the issues related to the repatriation of the Pakistani students.
Kyrgyz police said they had mobilised forces in the capital to quell the violence, in which hundreds of local men attacked buildings housing foreign students, including Pakistanis.

The attack, the police said, was prompted by foreigners -- whose nationality was not immediately clear -- beating up locals in the city.

Kyrgyzstan is a popular destination for education, especially in the medical field, attracting a large number of students from the subcontinent, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

The ministry of foreign affairs of Kyrgyzstan said the situation in Bishkek was under control. It added that the security forces had maintained public order and ensured the safety of citizens.

While about 15 people sought medical examinations, there were no serious injuries. Additionally, the ministry reported it “did not receive any messages regarding injured foreign citizens”.

Read Pakistan summons Kyrgyz envoy after mob violence

The Pakistan embassy in Bishkek issued an advisory for its students and other international ones amid reports of mob violence in the city.

Several hostels of medical universities and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been targeted.

While there are reports of minor injuries to the Pakistani students, there have been no confirmed reports of deaths or rapes.

The Pakistani students in the Kyrgyz city of Kant -- which is around 25 kilometres away from Bishkek -- said they were trapped inside their hostel and the dean of their university was not allowing them to return to their country.

They added that there were several Pakistani students in Kant and scared as the hostel had turned off the lights. They appealed to the Pakistani government to make arrangements for their return home.

In a related development, Pakistan’s Foreign Office lodged a protest with the Kyrgyz government over the mob attacks. “The Kyrgyz authorities have expressed regret at the incidents of violence against foreign nationals including Pakistanis in Bishkek last night. They have also pledged to hold an inquiry and punish the perpetrators,” according to a statement issued by the FO.

The Pakistan embassy has opened emergency helplines and responding to queries of students and their families. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Hassan Ali Zaigham has been in close contact with senior authorities of that country.

According to the Kyrgyz health ministry, four Pakistanis were provided first aid and discharged while one is under treatment for jaw injury.

Hours after the reports of mob attacks, the charge d'affaires of the Kyrgyz embassy, Melis Moldaliev, was called to the Foreign Office for a demarche by Director General (ECO & CARs) Aizaz Khan.

He was conveyed the deep concerns of the government of Pakistan about the reports of last night’s incidents against Pakistani students studying in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Kyrgyz charge d'affaires was told that his government should take all possible measures to ensure the safety and security of Pakistani students as well as other citizens residing in his country.

“The government of Pakistan takes the matter of the safety and security of its nationals around the world very seriously and will take all necessary measures to ensure their wellbeing,” the FO said.

(With input from agencies and our News Desk in Karachi)


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