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Sunday, June 23, 2024  
17 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Troubles persist for Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan as flight cancelled

Over 200 students stranded at Manas airport; demand action from government
Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi welcomes Pakistani students at the Lahore airport as the first flight from Kyrgyzstan arrives in Pakistan on May 18, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News
Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi welcomes Pakistani students at the Lahore airport as the first flight from Kyrgyzstan arrives in Pakistan on May 18, 2024. Screengrab via Aaj News

The troubles for Pakistani students stranded in Kyrgyzstan show no signs of abating as several were struck at the Bishkek airport after an Islamabad-bound flight was cancelled on Wednesday.

The flight 6575 from Bishkek to Islamabad was scheduled to bring back at least 125 students. It was scheduled to take off at 11am.

Pakistani students from Kyrgyzstan started returning to the country on May 18 after a violent mob attacked international students following clashes between two groups. The first commercial flight brought back at least 140 students back home.

One of the students, who was part of the flight, said that some local friends helped them reach the airport as reports said some taxi drivers had beaten students. He rebuffed the university head’s reports that the situation was under control.

When asked, the student said that he himself bore the travelling expenses and there was no government involvement. “It is the biggest lie if people think that the government bore the travelling expenses.”

Students are unable to either travel to Pakistan or return to their hostels as several students, who have returned since Saturday, have claimed that they did not take taxis to reach the airport due to suspected attacks against international students.

Aside from a single Pakistan International Airlines flight, no other flights have been granted permission to operate from Pakistan. Students have demanded that the government take “immediate notice” of the situation, claiming that the relevant authorities have not shown seriousness in addressing their plight.

Special flight operations “are conditional upon the instructions and approval” of the foreign affairs ministry, the Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson said in a statement.

Over 3,000 students so far returned to Pakistan

More than 3,000 students have returned to Pakistan from Kyrgyzstan, Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters on Wednesday. He said that the total number was expected to exceed 4,000 by midnight.

The government has also asked the Air Force to run special flights to bring back students.

“I had said that I would not be placated until I physically came to Kyrgyzstan. The president had assured me that everything is under control and not to worry,” he said while sharing details of his meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana earlier this week.

In his meeting, he demanded that those responsible for the attacks on Pakistani students should be held accountable.

“But I told him that I would like to come and meet the injured and meet with the deputy prime minister,” Dar said.

He reiterated that the situation was normal in the Central Asian country.

Dar, who is also the deputy prime minister, revealed that about 1,100 workers there, came on the guise of being tourists and then started working without any visa or legal documents.

“I thought to avail this opportunity — and obviously there was a sympathy factor in this — that I request that these 1,100 workers who are now working there, who say they have never broken a law, who are law-abiding and hard-working, that instead of deporting them, regularise them. Give them proper visas, so that these 1,100 families do not suffer through the deportation process,” Dar said.

He also announced that an inquiry committee would be formed on the incident. “[The committee] will also assess how the issue was handled by our mission and how much responsibility they took. They had established two helplines on WhatsApp. But one side of the story is not enough.”

On Sunday, Dar told media persons that the incident occurred due to a “misunderstanding”. He quoted his Kyrgyz counterpart as saying that “paid bloggers and paid social media” were used in the incident. “We don’t know what their agenda is.” He reiterated that the situation was normal, security institutions were active, and extra security was deployed outside hostels.

Also, read this

How Kyrgyzstan violence started; ministry shares report

Mob violence against Pakistanis: Kyrgyz media calls it protest against illegal foreigners

540 Pakistani students to return from Kyrgyzstan via three flights today: FM Dar

Helpline

The Pakistani Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan has issued advisory instructions for Pakistani students, asking them to remain indoors until the situation normalizes and to stay in contact with local law enforcement authorities.

“We are taking measures to ensure the safety of the students,” the Pakistani Ambassador stated.

The FO spokesperson also shared the following phone numbers for parents seeking information:

  • 0519203108

  • 0519203094

The Crisis Management Unit’s (CMU) email address was also provided. [email protected].

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hasan Zaigham said that his office was liaising with local authorities to ensure students’ safety and posted numbers for an emergency helpline.

The numbers shared are:

  • +996555554476

  • +996507567667

  • +996 507567667

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