Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Ulanbek Totuiaev speaks at a press briefing in his embassy on Wednesday. — White Star
Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Ulanbek Totuiaev speaks at a press briefing in his embassy on Wednesday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Blaming a small group of criminal elements behind violent clashes that left some Pakistani students injured in Bishkek, the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan in Islamabad, Ulanbek Totuiaev said the chief and nine officers of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Sverdlovsk region were removed from their positions after riots on the night of May 18.

“Do not let an isolated event put you off from visiting Kyrgyzstan. The incident does not reflect the overall safety of the country or the warm hospitality of the Kyrgyz people,” Ambassador Ulanbek Totuiaev said at a press briefing held at the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan.

About 10 days ago, a fight broke out between local and foreign citizens in one of the hostels in the eastern part of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The police opened a criminal case under the article “hooliganism” of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic and all participants in the brawl were taken to the police department.

On May 17, a video of the fight and injured Kyrgyz citizens was published on one of the social media pages, as a result of which on the night of May 18, in Bishkek a mob gathered demanding that the foreigners be brought to justice.

Ambassador says four foreign nationals, 10 locals detained after riots

“From the moment information about the incident was received, law enforcement agencies of the Kyrgyz Republic took prompt measures to detain persons involved in the event…four Egyptian citizens and around 10 citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic. The chief and nine officers of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Sverdlovsk region were removed from their positions after riots on the night of May 18,” the Kyrgyz envoy said. He claimed that the situation was completely under the control of law enforcement agencies and the safety of citizens and public order were ensured.

There were no seriously injured people among the participants of the incident, said Ulanbek Totuiaev, adding, “At the same time, the embassy urges representatives of the mass media not to disseminate unreliable and unverified information.”

He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic informed that “destructive forces in foreign mass media, social networks, especially in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan deliberately spread totally false information” about the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic that did not correspond to reality.

Ambassador Ulanbek Totuiaev described various meetings at different forums between government officials of both countries assuring assistance and cooperation.

On May 18, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Almaz Imangaziev met Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hassan Ali Zaigham to discuss the incident involving foreign citizens, including Pakistani students, in Bishkek. The Kyrgyz authorities assured that the situation was under control and requested Pakistan to prevent the spread of misinformation.

On May 19, Deputy Minister Avazbek Atakhanov and Ambassador Zaigham expressed gratitude for the assistance provided and reiterated the commitment to maintaining order. They agreed on a future meeting between their foreign ministers during the SCO Council in Astana.

In Astana on May 21, a bilateral meeting focused on enhancing economic, cultural, and humanitarian cooperation. Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar later made a brief stop in Bishkek to visit Pakistani citizens and met Kyrgyz officials, including Deputy Chairman Edil Baisalov. Both sides emphasised the friendly relations and the need for justice regarding the incident. The Kyrgyz official said during the briefing that the two sides reaffirmed their strong bilateral ties following the incident in Bishkek.

He stressed the “deep historical, cultural, and religious connections” between the two nations and highlighted the longstanding friendship and numerous cooperative efforts between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan within regional and international frameworks.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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