ISLAMABAD: In the wake of the deadly Peshawar school attack last month, the interior ministry has decided to keep an eye on the activities of foreign students who are enrolled in various educational institutions.
Sources in the interior ministry revealed that the possible role of foreign students – especially those from Afghanistan, China and certain Gulf states – in terror attacks was discussed during subsequent meetings. At the point officials decided to strictly check their activities within Pakistan’s academic institutions.
The sources maintained that the Peshawar tragedy has opened the eyes of many, including the concerned authorities. According to unconfirmed reports, some Afghan nationals working in the school’s cafeteria had acted as collaborators of the attackers.
The authorities fear that militants could use foreign students as a tool for their nefarious designs. By keeping tabs on foreign students, it would become easier to pre-empt any act of terror. In this regard, the sources said, the ministry has sought details from the Higher Education Commission about foreign enrolment in academic institutions.
The winter break for schools and other learning institutions was extended in the aftermath of the Peshawar tragedy. Both the federal and provincial authorities are planning to reopen schools from Monday (today).
According to Higher Education Commission (HEC), there are total 6,900 foreign students enrolled in various Pakistani universities/degree awarding institutions other than those who are studying in schools. These students belong to Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Britain, Germany, Syria, African and Gulf countries.
Students from Afghanistan continue to represent nearly half of the total number of foreign students in Pakistan (3,327). There are 767 Chinese students who together with Somalia account for a 1,000-plus population.
Similarly, students from other countries are as follows: Sudan 286, Nepal 155, the United States 119, Yemen 113, the United Kingdom 33, Turkey 140, Jordan 146, Saudi Arabia 177, Palestine 152, overseas Pakistanis 181, Indonesia 86, Kenya 71, Iran 65, Canada 73, Indian Kashmir 77, Bangladesh 41, United Arab Emirates 46, Nigeria 45, Libya 11, Germany 11 and Kazakstan 5. The remaining foreigners are in smaller number and represent other different countries.
Moreover, the Islamic International University, which was targeted by terrorists in 2011, has 1,829 students enrolled from various countries and the highest number is 625 students from China, 575 from Afghanistan, 78 from Indonesia, 54 from Saudi Arabia, 63 from Somalia, 19 from Kenya, 3 from Kazakhstan, 17 from Nigeria and 2 from Syria.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2015.