Back from Bishkek, horrified Pakistani students say they were ‘abandoned’ by Sharif government

Advertisement

Sharing their horrific tales of survival after returning home via special flights from Kyrgyzstan, Pakistani students have slammed the Shehbaz Sharif government for making false claims about ensuring their safe return. As they shared shocking details of mob attacks, threats and injuries that they suffered at the hands of the protesting locals in Bishkek last week, the visibly shaken and traumatised students slammed the Pakistani embassy in the country and the government for making tall claims about acting swiftly on the matter.

The government personnel who were present at the airport on Sunday to receive the returning students faced serious and aggressive criticism from the students, who openly voiced their concerns and termed the claims being made by the government as nothing but “blatant lies.” “The government claims that it is bearing all costs of bringing back students from Kyrgyzstan via special flights. I want to tell this clearly that it is a complete and blatant lie. We have paid fares for tickets ourselves,” said one of the Pakistani students outside the Lahore airport.

Most of the 600 students, who have been repatriated to Pakistan, also stated that the Pakistani embassy in Bishkek did nothing to ensure their safety. “Me and my other friends were taken to the Bishkek airport by some considerate locals, who knew us for years and wanted to help us. Some of our friends who hired taxis were also attacked on their way by the locals. The government’s actions were nowhere to be seen. We were left to survive on our own,” said a student. Another student, whose forehead was covered with bandages, said that the Pakistani government and its embassy in Bishkek has agreed to the Kyrgyzstan government’s claim that things are back to normal in the country’s capital. They insist that the situation is still tense and there are many students who want to leave amid increasing threats by the locals.

Advertisement

“The government is lying about the number of injured students. It is trying to cover up the entire situation there. We and many other foreign nationals are still receiving threats through social media. All those who were tortured and beaten up in the mob attack, were not even given medical attention. You see the bandages on my head and arm… These have been done by my friends and not by a medical officer,” he said. “Our universities have threatened to expel us if we do not stop giving interviews or share our ordeals on social media.

Locals there who have seen our videos have been sending us death threats. There are dozens others who were attacked and injured badly in the mob attack. Pakistani embassy officials are nowhere to be seen. We even had to pay for our flight back home. We felt like we had been abandoned by our own government,” he added. The government on the other hand, claims that the Kyrgyzstan government has assured that the situation is back to normal, hinting towards an expected halt to the special flights designated to bring back Pakistani students from the country.

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar has said that he held detailed discussion with his counterpart in Kyrgyzstan, who has assured and confirmed that the situation is under control. “Our two-member delegation was going to Kyrgyzstan. But we have been requested by the Kyrgyzstan government that the visit was not required as the situation is under control there,” he said.

However, the government’s claims have been rubbished by the students who continue to express their anger over the neglect they have suffered at the hands of the Kyrgyzstan police and the Pakistani government. The mob violence erupted in Bishkek after a viral video showing a dispute between locals and some foreign students from Egypt, escalated into a social media call for attacks on foreign students on May 13. On May 17, hundreds of locals attacked hostels and residences of foreign students including male and female students from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.