BEING stranded on foreign shores is hardly an agreeable experience. And if the environment is hostile — as it appears to be for foreign students, including Pakistanis, in Kyrgyzstan — then the ordeal can take a dangerous turn.

Distress calls, reports and videos from Pakistani students in the Kyrgyz capital and Kant are pouring in thick and fast. Frightened youngsters allege that enraged mobs break into their hostels, pummel them, steal money and destroy personal property.

Talking to journalists on WhatsApp calls, students said that there was a shortage of food supplies because they were unable to leave their rooms. Disturbing visuals circulating on social media show armed crowds breaking doors and beating students.

According to media reports, foreign students in Bishkek, including Pakistanis, were assaulted by locals after their clash with Egyptian nationals on May 13. While the cause of the confrontation remains unclear, some five Pakistanis are reportedly injured. Pakistan has advised students to stay indoors amid violence targeting the international student community.

If circumstances are as rough as the students claim, the government must take action and address the distress faced by its young citizens caught in turmoil.

Mixed messages through media reports and rumours are creating panic and fear. Therefore, the Pakistani mission in Bishkek needs to adopt a hands-on, personable method to tend to students’ needs, such as nourishment, medicine, security and even returning to their families. The government ought to navigate these circumstances with a direct approach comprising convincing communication with the students and Kyrgyz authorities.

In addition, the consular staff should be directed to extend adequate support through helplines, which convey regular updates and tackle challenges faced by distraught citizens. Our foreign minister should designate personnel to monitor the situation and establish contact with his Kyrgyz counterpart so that stranded youth have absolute protection.

A worrying story of citizens in extraordinary conditions cannot become another example of state abandonment.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...
Kindness needed
Updated 20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

This year’s World Refugee Day theme — solidarity with refugees — includes keeping our borders accessible and addressing the hurdles they face.
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...