Bishkek unrest: Over 300 more Pakistanis reach country as students' evacuation continues

Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Amir Muqam greets students upon arrival

Asif Bashir Chaudhary
Web Desk
Bishkek unrest: Over 300 more Pakistanis reach country as students evacuation continues
Student returning from Bishkek is receieved by Pakistani authorities at Islamabad airport in this still taken from a video. — Geo News/YouTube

  • Govt to "provide all kinds of assistance" to students willing to return.
  • Minister says more flights will bring Pakistani students back home.
  • Around 11,000 students in Bishkek, 6,000 in other Kyrgyz cities.

ISLAMABAD: More than 300 more Pakistanis retuned from Bishkek, landing in Islamabad and Lahore on separate flights on Monday, as the return of students stranded in Kyrgyzstan continues following the events of violence in the Kyrgyz capital last week.

Islamabad International Airport manager Aftab Gillani welcomed 179 returnees on their homecoming in the federal capital and presented flower bouquets to them.

Mob attacks erupted in Bishkek, targeting a number of Pakistani and other foreign students last Friday, which resulted in injuries of various Pakistanis. 

As per Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar about 11,000 students were in Bishkek while 6,000 others were in different cities.

The situation in the Kyrgyz capital, according to the students stuck there became out of control as they feared for their lives and demanded immediate evacuation, but the government downplayed the unrest in the Central Asian state. 

Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Engineer Amir Muqam, who was present to greet the students at Islamabad airport said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was personally monitoring the situation.

"Whoever wants to return to the country, the government of Pakistan will provide all kinds of assistance to them," he said. The minister revealed that more flights will bring the students back home.

"Our first priority is the safety of Pakistani students," he said, adding that the protection of life and property of Pakistanis will be ensured in every case.

Meanwhile, federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar received another 170 students in Lahore, which he said was the fourth batch arriving from the Kyrgyzstan.

The minister assured that all possible measures would be taken to facilitate the students returning from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

He mentioned that a special flight is scheduled to bring back injured students.

The Pakistani embassy in Kyrgyzstan has put up a Google Form for the evacuation of Pakistani students. 

Students return 'on their own'

Earlier, over 350 Pakistani students landed in Lahore and Islamabad in separate flights, from Bishkek on Sunday night, with 180 passengers on board each plane. 

The students had expressed concerns about their security and lack of support from the government while they were still stranded in Bishkek. 

They said they reached Lahore on their own, contrary to the information minister, who claimed that the government was helping the students who wanted to come back.

The government said that arrangements like emergency helplines and Crisis Management Unit (CMU) had been set up. Pakistani nationals in the Kyrgyz Republic and their families may contact the unit at 051-9203108 and 051-9203094.

The CMU may also be contacted via email at: [email protected].

Meanwhile, Pakistani embassy in Bishkek provided the following contact numbers for students to get in touch regarding any emergency situation:

+996555554476, +996507567667, +996550730550 and +996501140874

What happened in Bishkek?

Mohammad Abdullah, a Pakistani medical student in Bishkek, told Geo News that the dispute began over the harassment of Egyptian students by those from Kyrgyztan. The riots, however, broke out after Egyptian students confronted them, he added.

Abdullah mentioned that the Kyrgyz students then began attacking foreign students, including Pakistani students, across Bishkek.

Students have also complained about non-cooperation of Pakistan embassy in the midst of the violence unfolding in the capital city.

According to local media in Kyrgyzstan, a fight between local and foreign students broke out in a hostel in the capital city on May 13. At least three foreigners, involved in the dispute, were taken into custody.

On the evening of May 17, the local media reported, locals protested in Bishkek, demanding action against the foreigners involved in the dispute.

The chief of Bishkek's Interior Affairs Directorate requested to end the protest, while the detained foreigners also apologised later. The Kyrgyz media reported that the protesters refused to disperse, instead more people gathered at the spot after which the authorities detained several of them for violating public order.

As per local media, the protesters dispersed after negotiations with the head of federal police.

— Additional input from APP