Dar urges Kyrgyz FM to punish perpetrators of attacks on Pakistani students

Published May 20, 2024
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar meets Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev in Astana, Kazakhstan on Monday. — Foreign Office
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar meets Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev in Astana, Kazakhstan on Monday. — Foreign Office

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday urged Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev to take swift action against the perpetrators involved in the recent attacks on Pakistani students in the nation’s capital of Bishkek.

FM Dar, who earlier reached Astana, Kazakhstan, for the regular meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO), held a meeting with the Kyrgyz FM.

The meeting focused on the recent developments in Bishkek and the welfare of Pakistani nationals there.

Recalling their telephonic conversation a day on the same subject, Dar underlined that Pakistan’s main concern was the security and well-being of its nationals, especially the students who were primarily affected by the developments of Friday night.

He shared the feelings of insecurity and fear among the Pakistani students and requested FM Kulubaev to ensure their safety and security. He also requested holding to account those responsible for the attacks on Pakistani students.

FM Kulubaev shared that the Kyrgyz government had taken swift action to restore law and order, and the perpetrators of the mob riots would be punished under the Kyrgyz law.

He reassured the deputy PM about the safety and security of Pakistani nationals and full facilitation for the safe repatriation of students who wished to return to Pakistan.

Dar commended the role of the Kyrgyz government, health department and law enforcement agencies, and thanked FM Kulubaev for ensuring the much-needed health and security assistance being provided to the Pakistani students. He emphasised that the two countries should maintain close liaison in that regard.

The Foreign Office (FO) said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan in the domains of energy, connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts also came under discussion with both dignitaries expressing satisfaction at the progress of established bilateral institutional mechanisms.

More flights bring students back to Pakistan

Meanwhile, another flight bringing back Pakistani students from Bishkek arrived at Islamabad International Airport today.

The students were received by Kashmir Affairs Minister Amir Muqam who enquired about the students’ well-being and assured them that the government would provide all kinds of assistance to those who wish to return to the country, adding that more flights would be bringing Pakistani students home.

“Our first priority is the safety of Pakistani students. The protection of life and property of Pakistanis will be ensured in every case,” Muqam said.

He said the prime minister immediately took steps to protect Pakistani students after this incident and had himself monitored the situation.

Elsewhere, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar assured that all possible measures would be taken to facilitate the students returning from Bishkek.

Talking to the media at Allama Iqbal International Airport, where he welcomed 170 Pakistani students arriving on a special flight from Bishkek, the minister highlighted the government’s efforts.

He noted that it was the fourth flight from the Kyrgyz local airline Aero Nomad, bringing the total number of returning students to 540.

Tarar highlighted the government’s “unwavering focus” on the well-being of returning students. He expressed gratitude that no Pakistani student was harmed.

The minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was in constant contact with the Pakistani ambassador in Kyrgyzstan and took immediate action to address the students’ concerns.

“The government is committed to ensuring the safety and education of Pakistani students, with plans to send them back once the situation stabilises so they can complete their degrees,” he added.

He emphasised that, following the premier’s special directive, ministers were present at airports to welcome the returning students, ensuring they did not feel alone.

Tarar called for responsible handling of the situation. He mentioned that a special flight was scheduled to bring back the injured students.

Earlier, he greeted the arriving students with flowers and reassured their families that the government would prioritise resolving their issues. In conversation with students and their families, the minister reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing their concerns promptly and efficiently.

Separately, a statement from Pakistan International Airlines said the national carrier had scheduled two further speciakl flights: the first to reach Islamabad tomorrow at 6am and the second to reach Lahore at 2pm.

PIA said further flights could be scheduled as per the government’s instructions and the need.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani embassy in Kyrgyzstan shared a form through which Pakistani students who wished to return home could share their contact information.

In a post on X, it said that the students’ information would be verified before departure.

Separately, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Higher Education Meena Khan Afridi said that students stuck in Kyrgyzstan would be brought back home through special flights.

He said that he would personally receive the students in Peshawar along with KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, Finance Minister Muzamil Aslam and MNA Faisal Amin Gandapur.

According to Afridi, a mobile number had been shared on which those stuck in Kyrgyzstan could register themselves, adding that they would be brought back on a first-come first-served basis.

Aslam said that the provincial government had released Rs60 million for the students’ return, noting that additional funds would be released as more people registered.

He noted that the number shared was not only for students from KP but other provinces as well.

GB CM calls on FO to prioritise return of students

Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan spokesperson Faizullah Faraq said a list was provided to the FO for the safe return of 80 GB students stranded in Kyrgyzstan, pointing out that a large number of them were female.

Fariq said GB CM Haji Gulbar contacted the FO and stressed the need to take effective measures for their safe return.

In a letter written to the FO, CM Gulbar asked to ensure that food and medical aid be immediately provided to students suffering from aggravating circumstances, adding that they should be rescued on a priority basis.

The chief minister also said that after rescuing the students, measures should be taken to ensure that they safely returned to the country to keep the parents’ concerns at bay.

Faraq said that the GB government held a detailed discussion with Pakistani ambassador Hassan Ali Zaigham a day ago on the safe return of the students.

Repatriation flights

On Saturday, a special flight carrying the first batch of Pakistan students from the Kyrgyz capital landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport, where the students were received by Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi.

“Transport facility will be provided to students belonging to other cities. Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan are children of the nation. The prime minister immediately took steps to protect Pakistani students after this incident,” Naqvi had said.

On Sunday, more than 350 students landed in Lahore and Islamabad, with 180 students on board each plane.

At the Islamabad airport, the students who arrived via the KA 4575 flight, which landed at 7:45pm, were welcomed by federal minister Musadik Malik; in Lahore, the students were greeted by Tarar as the KA 6571 flight reached the airport at 8:15pm. The families, present at the airport to receive their loved ones, were jubilant upon the safe return of the students.

The Civil Aviation Authority had set up an immigration desk and provided transport to the students on arrival. As per the instructions of the prime minister, the federal government will bear the expenses for these special flights.

Attack on hostels

Zaigham had posted a video update on X on Saturday regarding the situation in the Central Asian state. He said “local extremist elements” had attacked six hostels of international students and their private residences last night in Bishkek, injuring 14.

“In view of mob violence around student hostels in Bishkek, the embassy strongly advises all Pakistani students in Bishkek to stay indoors until the situation returns to normal. We are liaising with the local law enforcement authorities to ensure the safety of our student fraternity,” the ambassador said.

FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch had also reposted the envoy’s message and said the embassy was in contact with the Kyrgyz authorities as the safety of the students was of paramount importance for the ambassador and his team.

In a statement, the FO said the government had been in contact with Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the safety and security of its nationals at risk in view of the riots.

“The Kyrgyz authorities have expressed regret at the incidents of violence against foreign nationals, including Pakistanis in Bishkek last night. They have also pledged to hold an inquiry and punish the perpetrators”, it said.

“The government of Pakistan takes the matter of the safety and security of its national around the world very seriously and will take all necessary measures to ensure their wellbeing. The deputy prime minister and foreign minister [Ishaq Dar] has directed the FO to monitor the situation round-the-clock and fully assist and facilitate Pakistani nationals.”


Additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali.

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