Pakistan in action after students injured in Kyrgyzstan mob attacks

Pakistanis in Bishkek asked to stay indoors  On PM’s orders, Deputy PM Dar, federal minister Amir Muqam to leave for Kyrgyzstan today Pak Ambassador says five students injured, no death reported.

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI /BISHKEK   -   At least five Pakistani medical students were injured in a mob attacks on foreign students in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan said on Saturday.

A number of incidents of mob violence against foreign students have been reported in Bishkek since Friday evening. The matter boiled over due to sharing online of videos of a brawl between Kyrgyz students and medical students from Egypt on May 13, the Pakistani embassy said on Facebook, citing the Kyrgyz press.

So far, a few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been attacked. The hostels are inhabited by students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there have been reports of minor injuries to some Pakistani students. “Five Pakistani students were injured in the mob violence. One of them is admitted in a local hospital with some jaw injuries, while four others were released after first aid,” Hasan Zaigham, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, told Arab News over the phone.

“No Pakistani is killed or raped in the violence,” he said, rebutting rumors on social media. “The situation is under control now as Bishkek authorities have dispersed all the miscreants.”

The ambassador said they had advised Pakistani students to stay indoors and get in touch with the embassy in case of any urgency. “We are in touch with the local law enforcement authorities to ensure safety of our students,” he said.

Around 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in different institutes in Kyrgyzstan and nearly 6,000 of them are residing and studying in Bishkek where the violence erupted Friday night, according to Zaigham.

‘Calls for evacuation’

Nisar Ali, 23, a fourth-year MBBS student in Bishkek hailing from Peshawar, said the local police appeared to be “assisting the rioters,” instead of stopping them.

“They [rioters] are not discriminating among international students. Although it started between Egyptian students and locals, they are now attacking every foreigner, whether they are Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Bangladeshi, or citizens of any other country. Every other student is injured. Several of my friends who lived in the hostel have been attacked and are severely injured,” he said.

“It started at around 10pm last night, but until morning, the Pakistan embassy didn’t answer our calls. I live with Pakistani friends in an apartment. We have locked ourselves in with all lights off. We have nothing to eat, and we cannot go out, as going out means you’re attacked.”

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Hassan Zaigham today visited the Kyrgyz National Hospital to inquire after the health of Pakistani National Shahzaib who is under treatment there.

In a post on X, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that a few other Pakistanis who were injured in the mob violence in Bishkek have been discharged from hospital after first aid.

The Embassy of Pakistan in Kyrgyzstan has advised the Pakistani students to stay indoors amidst mob violence taking place outside the student hostels in Capital Bishkek. Ambassador of Pakistan in Bishkek Hasan Zaigham assured that the embassy is liaising with the local law enforcement authorities to ensure safety of the Pakistani students.  Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has decided to send Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Amir Muqam will also travel to Kyrgyzstan along with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Both the ministers will depart for Bishkek tomorrow morning via a special aircraft.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will hold meetings with senior government officials in Bishkek and ensure provision of medical facilities to the injured students.

They will also review matters related to the repatriation of Pakistani students.

The Prime Minister has been monitoring the situation throughout the day today and remained in contact with the Pakistani Ambassador in Bishkek.

Despite the situation being under control, it has been decided to send this delegation to Bishkek to ensure necessary cooperation and facilitation for Pakistani students.

As violent mobs targeting foreign students erupted overnight in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Pakistani medical student Syed Shah Rukh Khan huddled with others in the student hostel where he lives.

“The night passed like a living hell,” Khan, who is in his final year of medical studies at Adam University in central Bishkek, told Radio Mashaal, RFE/RL’s service for Pakistan. “Our hostel was attacked and many other hostels, whether private or in the universities, were attacked.”

Khan is one of several Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan who gave harrowing accounts to RFE/RL of the mob violence that engulfed Bishkek in the early hours of May 18 after a video purportedly showing Kyrgyz students fighting Egyptian medical students days earlier was shared widely on social media.

The Kyrgyz government has said more than two dozen people were injured in the violence, which prompted the embassies of Pakistan and India in the Central Asian nation of 7 million to warn their students to remain indoors.

“The locals have beaten whoever came their way, male or female students, and they were dragged on the ground,” Khan said. “Even outside the universities, they went after the Pakistani and Indian students and beat them.”

Khan told Radio Mashaal that the rampage began around 2 a.m. in Bishkek and that the mobs had scouted out the locations of Pakistani and Indian students prior to the attacks.

“They entered our hostel in the night by breaking the doors and windows. But we were lucky that the [security forces] quickly arrived there,” Khan said. “They controlled the situation. In other hostels, the situation was worse. They beat the students and dragged them on the ground outside their rooms.”

Hasnain Ali, a Pakistani medical student at the International University of Kyrgyzstan, said he and his fellow students were attacked in their hostel and that several of them suffered serious injuries.

Ali said that in the late afternoon in Bishkek on May 18, local police informed him and others that another mob was heading toward their university and had told them: “Turn off your lights, close your doors and windows, and don’t look outside.”

“We are without water and food. The local police are not helping. They came last night when the mob was gone. The Pakistani Embassy also did not send us any help so far. We are looking to the media to let people know about our situation,” a terrified-sounding Ali told Radio Mashaal.

Another Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, Farooq Zeb, said he saw angry protesters chanting anti-Indian and anti-Pakistani slogans and breaking through the gates of his hostel.

Ambassador Hassan Zaigham urged the Pakistani community in Kyrgyzstan to refrain from believing fake news circulating on social media platforms.

He emphasized that Pakistani nationals in Kyrgyzstan and their families should promptly contact Pakistan’s Embassy in case of any emergency, utilizing the phone numbers provided on the social media accounts and website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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