Families on pins and needles as Bishkek riots rage on

Parents lament woefully lacklustre response from embassy, authorities

Z Ali/Tufail Ahmed May 19, 2024
Pakistani student are under attack in Krygztan. Photo: File


As the riots rage on in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistani families back home are on tenterhooks, urging authorities to go the extra mile to ensure their children make it home safe and sound as students awaiting help remain on pins and needles.

With unsettling reports of casualties and sexual assaults flooding in, the families interviewed by The Express Tribune urgently demanded the safe repatriation of their loved ones before it was too late.

Meanwhile, students raised the alarm, decrying the embassy's woefully lacklustre response as they found themselves in a perilous limbo. With the danger lurking at every corner, they said they were caught between a rock and a hard place, holed up in their hostels and dorms in the dark.

Two medical students from Hyderabad said they were on edge, waiting for help to arrive.

Read: Dar, Muqam to leave for Bishkek amid mob violence against students

A female student from the International European University shared her harrowing experience with The Express Tribune, saying that she wanted to return to Pakistan.

"The situation here is far more tense than what is being reported in the media," she claimed.

According to her, the messages of Pakistani students circulating in WhatsApp groups are spreading panic among the students as they describe a higher tally of casualties and rape incidents than what's being covered in the media.

“We want to return to Pakistan but the problem is we can't step out from where we're holed up to reach the airport without proper security.”

She mentioned that she and other students feared being intercepted by the violent Kyrgyz mob on their way to the airport. "For all we know, the cab we hire might take us straight to the mob instead of the airport," she worried.

The student urged the Pakistani embassy to provide security escorts for those wanting to return to Pakistan from their hostels, dorms, and apartments to the airport.

Another student staying with her added that they faced uncertainty not only about their security but also about where their next three meals would come from. "We were served breakfast but we don't know if we will get lunch or dinner."

She explained that because of the grave danger to their lives, they're unable to venture out of their accommodations to purchase food from shops or restaurants.

Amir Mughal, hailing from the Latifabad area of Hyderabad, disclosed that his son, also an MBBS student, is with three or four roommates in a dormitory in Bishkek.

He lamented that the students have been confined inside with insufficient food supplies for several days.

Mughal lamented the lack of response from both the Pakistani embassy in Bishkek and the authorities in Pakistan, as neither has reached out to his son or his son's companions nor have they contacted the parents of those affected, leaving them in the dark.

Read: Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek asked to 'stay indoors' after mob attacks

Ayaz Latif Palijo, the president of Qaumi Awami Tehreek, said that he has spoken to several students in Bishkek who all feared for their lives and complained against the Pakistani embassy. “The response of the foreign ministry and the embassy to the situation is very disappointing.

Similarly, Dr Ghulam Nabi Shah, whose son is a medical student enrolled at Royal Metropolitan Medical University, shared with The Express Tribune his concerns over the perilous situation faced by both male and female Pakistani students.

He mentioned that following the unrest on May 17, his son and fellow Pakistani students vacated the hostel in the wake of the university hostel attack.

He said that at present, over 10,000 Pakistani students reside in the hostels of Avicenna Medical University, Royal Metropolitan Medical University, Asian Medical Institute, and other educational institutions in Bishkek.

He said that a clash erupted last night between Egyptian and local Kyrgyz students regarding the ongoing Gaza issue, escalating into violent riots. Subsequently, the safety of foreign students, including Pakistanis, was jeopardised in the country, resulting in injuries to numerous Pakistani students during the unrest.

Furthermore, he mentioned that female students residing in these hostels are gripped with fear and anxiety following the riots.

“The university hostels have depleted their food and beverage supplies due to looting, and rioters are ransacking the premises and discarding belongings after forcibly entering rooms occupied by Pakistanis and other foreigners,” he added.

“The ongoing siege, explosions, and gunfire have left Pakistani students in a state of constant fear.”

“After the unrest reports in Bishkek, parents like us are deeply worried and are persistently attempting to reach out to the foreign ministry, yet without any success,” he complained.

He urged the foreign ministry to relocate all Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan to secure facilities.

He pointed out that students are resorting to sharing videos on social media to safeguard their lives and to grab the attention of the Pakistani government.


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