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Bishkek Mob Violence: Flight with 30 Pakistani Students Lands in Lahore

A plane carrying 30 Pakistani students, who were stranded in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek amid mob attacks on foreign nationals, landed in Lahore on Saturday night. Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi welcomed the students at Lahore airport, where many of their family members were also present.

This development followed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s announcement that the federal government would cover all travel expenses for stranded Pakistani students wishing to return home. The violence in Bishkek was triggered by a brawl between locals and Egyptian nationals on May 13, resulting in injuries to at least five Pakistani students.

The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek refuted reports of fatalities among Pakistani students, with Ambassador Hasan Zaigham confirming that Shahzaib, a Pakistani national injured in the attacks, was in stable condition.

In a statement from the PM Office on Saturday, PM Shehbaz expressed grave concerns over the mob violence against foreign students in Bishkek. He directed Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs, Amir Muqam, to travel to Kyrgyzstan to assist the stranded Pakistani nationals and address their concerns.

The prime minister assured that the government would provide all necessary assistance to the affected students and facilitate those wishing to return to Pakistan. The government also emphasized maintaining constant contact between the students and their families through the embassy.

Political parties and parents of the stranded students had been calling for their evacuation from Bishkek. In response to the violence, Islamabad summoned Kyrgyzstan’s top diplomat in Pakistan and issued a formal protest, urging the Kyrgyz government to ensure the safety of Pakistani students and citizens.

Kyrgyz police reported mobilizing forces in Bishkek on Friday to control the violence, where hundreds of Kyrgyz men attacked buildings housing foreign students, including Pakistanis.

Musab Tariq, a Pakistani student in Bishkek, described the situation as dire, contradicting official claims. He reported that students were in hiding, fearing for their safety, with mobs attempting to break into apartments. Tariq and other students called for immediate evacuation.

However, Pakistani Ambassador Hasan Zaigham stated that the situation in Bishkek appeared normal since 6 pm and that Kyrgyz authorities had assured the embassy of the students’ safety. He also mentioned the significant economic contribution of foreign students to Kyrgyzstan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs activated its Crisis Management Unit and issued emergency helpline numbers for Pakistani students facing violence in Bishkek. The Pakistani embassy in Bishkek also provided contact numbers for emergencies.

According to reports, the violence erupted after a confrontation between local and Egyptian students. The situation escalated with local protests demanding action against the foreign students involved. Despite assurances from the police, foreign students, including Pakistanis, faced ongoing threats and attacks, even while attempting to reach Bishkek Manas International Airport.

Pakistani students expressed frustration over the lack of support from the Pakistani embassy and described the presence of aggressive local youths at the airport, complicating their attempts to leave the country.

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