Pakistani students in Bishkek faced mob violence, at least five injured

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No Pakistani student died in Bishkek violence

ISLAMABAD, MAY 18: Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, faced mob violence late Friday night, with at least five getting hurt, Pakistani officials said on Saturday.

Kyrgyz police said they mobilized forces to control the situation, where hundreds of Kyrgyz men attacked buildings housing foreign students, including Pakistanis.

What we know so far:

  • Locals attacked international students after a video of a fight with Egyptians went viral on social media.
  • Kyrgyz media described the violence as a “protest against foreigners.”
  • Kyrgyz foreign ministry said 14 foreigners, including Pakistanis, were released from hospitals after treatment.
  • Kyrgyz deputy PM met with the Pakistani ambassador and assured that the situation was under control.
  • Pakistan Embassy said five Pakistanis were injured and advised nationals to stay indoors; India issued similar instructions.
  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office handed a demarche to the Kyrgyz envoy.

According to Pakistan’s Embassy in Bishkek, foreign students, including Pakistanis, were attacked by locals following a brawl with Egyptians on May 13. The cause of the initial fight remains unclear.

Kyrgyz media outlet 24.kg reported a “spontaneous protest against foreigners” that ended after police reached an agreement with the rioters. The Kyrgyz health ministry reported 29 injuries from the violence, while the foreign ministry said 14 foreigners were discharged from hospitals after receiving treatment.

The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek confirmed there were no deaths. They also noted that the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs stated the situation was under control.

Hasan Zaigham, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, posted a video update on X about the situation. He mentioned that “local extremist elements” attacked six hostels of international students and private residences, injuring 14 people. One Pakistani student, Shahzeb, is still in the hospital but is out of danger.

Zaigham added that both the prime minister and deputy prime minister had given special instructions to support Pakistani citizens, with the Kyrgyz government assuring the security of foreigners.

“We’ve been informed that some suspects have been arrested.”

Zaigham said embassy officials have been working since morning to address the concerns of Pakistanis, answering over 500 calls on emergency numbers. He urged the Pakistani community in Kyrgyzstan not to believe unverified news on social media.

Earlier, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch stated that five Pakistanis were injured, with four already discharged and one still receiving treatment for a jaw injury.

Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar called the violence “extremely concerning.”

Approximately 12,000 Pakistanis are studying in Kyrgyzstan.

A statement from the Kyrgyz government condemned “attempts to provoke violence and unrest on interethnic grounds due to the spread of false information on social media.”

Some medical university hostels and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, were attacked, according to APP.

A Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, Dr. Muhammad Taqi, told Dawn.com that although the situation seemed calm, he and other foreigners were preparing for a “second attack.” Taqi is from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Shangla region.

“They attacked girls’ and boys’ hostels all night,” he said.

Contrary to circulating social media posts, the Pakistan embassy said there have been no confirmed reports of death or rape of any Pakistani student.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch shared on X that five Pakistanis had been injured, with one suffering a jaw injury.

FM Dar described the reports of mob violence against Pakistani students in Bishkek as “extremely concerning.”

“We have contacted the Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the protection of Pakistani students,” he said on X.

“I have instructed our Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan to fully assist them.”

Zaigham also urged all Pakistanis in the capital to “stay indoors until the situation returns to normal.” He added that his office was coordinating with local authorities to ensure students’ safety and provided emergency helpline numbers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs activated its Crisis Management Unit (CMU), urging Pakistani nationals in Kyrgyzstan and their families to contact the unit at the provided numbers and email.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that his office was in touch with the Pakistani Embassy and “constantly monitoring the situation.”

“Deeply concerned over the situation of Pakistani students in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I have directed Pakistan’s Ambassador to provide all necessary help and assistance,” the PM wrote on X.

The FO spokesperson conveyed a message from Ambassador Zaigham on X, emphasizing the importance of students’ safety.

In a later update, the FO shared that Kyrgyz Charge d’affaires Melis Moldaliev was called to the FO for a demarche. He conveyed the government’s deep concerns and urged the Kyrgyz government to ensure the safety of Pakistani students and citizens.

Later, the FO shared a statement about a meeting between Pakistani Ambassador Zaigham and Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Imangaziev Almaz concerning the incidents in Bishkek. Zaigham stressed the importance of safeguarding Pakistani nationals, and Almaz assured that the situation was now under control and being supervised by the Kyrgyz president.

The Kyrgyz foreign ministry stated that destructive forces in foreign media, especially in Pakistan, were spreading false information about the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

They reiterated that the situation in Bishkek was calm and fully under control, urging media and the blogging community to rely on official information from Kyrgyz authorities.

APP reported several social media posts showing violence at hostels housing foreign students in Bishkek, with many appealing for help.

The Indian Embassy in Bishkek also advised its students to stay indoors, noting that the situation was calm but urging caution.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar also advised students to remain indoors and stay in touch with the embassy.