Government facilitates repatriation of Pakistani students from Bishkek following unrest

Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar announced today that the government has arranged three commercial flights to repatriate approximately 540 Pakistani students from Bishkek, following violent clashes in the Kyrgyz capital earlier this week. The unrest necessitated the evacuation of numerous foreign nationals, including a significant number of Pakistani students.

The violence erupted on Friday after viral videos of a confrontation between Kyrgyz and Egyptian students incited mobs to target hostels and private residences of international students in Bishkek. The first group of about 130 Pakistani students arrived in Lahore late Saturday night. Official records indicate that roughly 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in various educational institutions across Kyrgyzstan, with nearly 6,000 residing in Bishkek.

During a media briefing in Lahore, DPM Dar stated: “Three commercial special flights have been arranged for today, on which 540 students will return, while 130 returned yesterday.”

He added that a special flight operated by the Pakistan Air Force will also bring back around 130 students, with 50 having registered for this flight so far.

Dar also mentioned his conversation with Kyrgyzstan’s foreign minister earlier today, who assured him that the situation had stabilised since Friday afternoon and no new incidents had occurred. “The Kyrgyz foreign minister confirmed that 16 foreign students, including four to five Pakistanis, were injured and are receiving medical treatment,” Dar said.

The Kyrgyz government has enhanced security at student hostels and is closely monitoring the situation.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in response to the crisis, directed DPM Dar and another cabinet member, Amir Muqam, to address the situation in Bishkek. However, the planned visit was postponed at the request of the Kyrgyz government, which expressed concerns that the visit might be misinterpreted and politicised. Instead, Pakistan has dispatched two foreign office officials to assist the embassy in Bishkek.

“We were supposed to leave for the Kyrgyz Republic today, but their foreign minister requested us not to come because it could give the wrong impression about the incident and provide fuel to the opposition,” Dar explained. He emphasised that the Kyrgyz foreign minister denied any fatalities among Pakistani students and assured that those responsible for the violence had been apprehended and would be prosecuted.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad summoned the Kyrgyz Charge d’Affaires on Saturday to express Pakistan’s concerns over the attacks. DPM Dar noted that the violence stemmed from a clash between local and foreign students, with individuals from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and various Arab countries being targeted.

The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek has confirmed that the situation has calmed and that injured Pakistani students are receiving the best possible medical care. Prime Minister Sharif, in a telephone conversation with Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Hasan Ali Zaigham, instructed the embassy to arrange for the special flights to bring back the students. The prime minister also emphasised prioritising the return of injured students and their family members residing in Kyrgyzstan.

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