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HomeNews350 Pakistani students return from Kyrgyzstan amid safety concerns

350 Pakistani students return from Kyrgyzstan amid safety concerns

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A third flight carrying Pakistani students from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, landed in Islamabad late on Sunday (19), completing the return of around 350 nationals following violent incidents targeting foreign students on Friday (17). The students were welcomed at Islamabad airport by federal minister Musadik Malik, while those arriving in Lahore were received by information minister Attaullah Tarar.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had instructed Pakistan’s envoy in Kyrgyzstan to prioritise the safe return of injured students and those with families. The Civil Aviation Authority facilitated the arrivals by setting up an immigration desk and arranging transportation, with the government covering the expenses of the special flights.

Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, who postponed his planned trip to Kyrgyzstan, downplayed the severity of the mob violence, asserting that the situation in Bishkek was normal. During a press conference, Dar attributed rumours of Pakistani student deaths to social media and a specific political party, clarifying, “No Pakistani student died in Bishkek mob violence.” He added that 16 foreign students, including “four or five” Pakistanis, were injured and that the Kyrgyz authorities assured him the situation was under control.

Sharif emphasised the need to ensure the safe return of all Pakistani students. Pakistan’s Ambassador Hassan Zaigham in Kyrgyzstan confirmed no new incidents of violence had occurred and that all foreign students were safe. The President’s house also expressed concern and stressed the need for immediate measures to protect Pakistani students.

Despite official assurances, media reports suggested that students felt abandoned by the embassy and described the situation in Bishkek as dire. Many reported being attacked by locals and Kyrgyz students, feeling unsafe even in their hostel rooms. Educationist Sajid Hussain criticised the government for neglecting the return of students from Balochistan, who were being asked to pay for their repatriation, unlike students from other provinces.

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In response, Balochistan’s chief minister Sarfaraz Bugti established a special desk to address the issue, ensuring that the foreign ministry was in contact with the Kyrgyz embassy to assist the students.

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