Bishkek violence: Special flights to bring 540 more Pakistani students back to country tonight

Bishkek violence: Special flights to bring 540 more Pakistani students back to country tonight

ISLAMABAD, MAY 19: As many as 540 students, stranded in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek amid mob violence, are scheduled to return to the country via special flights, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar said on Sunday.

On late Saturday, a flight carrying first batch of Pakistani students landed at Lahore airport. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Dar said that about 130 Pakistani students returned to the country last night and that 540 more will return today. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed Ambassador of Pakistan in Kyrgyzstan Hasan Ali Zaigham to make all necessary arrangements regarding the special plane to bring back Pakistani students.

Several international students including Pakistanis came under mob attacks by locals in the aftermath of their fight with the Egyptian nationals on May 13.

At least five Pakistani students were injured in the violent attacks triggered by a brawl between locals and Egyptian nationals. There were reports of death of Pakistani students, however, they were rebutted by Pakistan’s embassy in Bishkek.

In a telephonic conversation with the envoy, PM Shehbaz directed him to stay in touch with all Pakistani students and their families in Kyrgyzstan. He said that the plane will depart in the evening today.

The premier stressed that the students who received injuries during the mob attacks should be brought back to Pakistan on priority, adding that repatriation of family members residing should also be arranged.

PM Shehbaz highlighted that all the expenses of the flights will be paid by the Government of Pakistan.

Informing PM Shehbaz about meeting with Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Imangaziev Almaz, the ambassador said that he was told the situation was completely under control and there were no new incidents of violence last night and today.

Almaz said security has been enhanced and Pakistani and other foreign students are absolutely safe. He added that even if the situation returns to normal and any Pakistani student wants to return home, he should be provided with all kinds of facilities.

According to sources, students will be flown from Kyrgyzstan today through three special flights while two flights will bring more students tomorrow (Monday).

Ishaq Dar, Amir Muqam’s visit

Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Amir Muqam were scheduled to visit Bishkek, however, their visit was postponed. 

The two ministers were scheduled to leave for the Kyrgyz capital today on a special flight.

Dar, while speaking during a presser today, said that he and Muqam were going to Bishkek but the Kyrgyz FM told them not to come as he assured them that the situation was under control. 

Gandapur offers support for safe return of KP students 

On the other hand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur contacted the Pakistani ambassador in Kyrgyzstan, offering to pay the expenses of the students belonging to the province. 

Gandapur said that the KP government will provide support and facilities for the safe return of students. He also expressed gratitude to the Kyrgyzstan government for effective measures to protect Pakistani students. 

The CM said that the KP government was committed to bear the expenses of safe return of students, adding that the students’ welfare is a shared responsibility. 

Emergency helpline numbers

A day earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also activated its Crisis Management Unit on the instruction and issued emergency helpline numbers for Pakistani students. 

Pakistani nationals in the Kyrgyz Republic and their families may contact the unit at 051-9203108 and 051-9203094.

The CMU may also be contacted via email at: [email protected].

The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek provided the following contact numbers for students to get in touch regarding any emergency situation:

+996555554476, +996507567667, +996550730550 and +996501140874

In a statement on her X handle, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zehra Baloch said the Pakistan embassy has opened emergency helplines and is responding to queries of students and their families.

What happened in Bishkek?

Mohammad Abdullah, a Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, told Geo News that the dispute began over the harassment of Egyptian students by those from Kyrgyztan. The riots, however, broke out after Egyptian students confronted them, he added.

Abdullah mentioned that the Kyrgyz students then began attacking foreign students, including Pakistani students, across Bishkek.

Students have also complained about non-cooperation of Pakistan embassy in the midst of the violence unfolding in the capital city.

According to local media in Kyrgyzstan, a fight between local and foreign students broke out in a hostel in the capital city on May 13. At least three foreigners, involved in the dispute, were taken into custody.

On the evening of May 17, the local media reported, locals protested in Bishkek, demanding action against the foreigners involved in the dispute.

The chief of Bishkek’s Interior Affairs Directorate requested to end the protest, while the detained foreigners also apologised later. The Kyrgyz media reported that the protesters refused to disperse, instead more people gathered at the spot after which the authorities detained several of them for violating public order.

As per local media, the protesters dispersed after negotiations with the head of federal police.

Pakistani students, speaking with Geo News, shared that the riots are continuing in Bishkek and foreign students are surrounded by locals.

“We have been told not to leave the hostels and residences,” students said, adding that they have not received any response from the Pakistani embassy.

The students mentioned that a large number of “mischievous” Kyrgyz youths were present at the Bishkek Manas International Airport.

“Foreign students going to the airport are also being attacked,” they said.