Wednesday July 17, 2024

‘No casualties in Bishkek’: Ministers blame ‘political party’ for spreading propaganda

Tarar said wrong news was being spread on social media by a political party

By Ag App & Ali Raza & News Desk
May 20, 2024
Kyrgyz nationals gather to take revenge from foreign students on May 17, 2024. —
Kyrgyz nationals gather to take revenge from foreign students on May 17, 2024. —

LAHORE: While two more flights carrying Pakistani students reached Lahore and Islamabad airports on Sunday, Federal Information Minister Attaullah Tarar slammed a political party for spreading propaganda on social media regarding deaths of Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan’s capitAal Bishkek during mob violence.

He was addressing a press conference, along with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Engr Amir Muqam here.

Tarar said wrong news was being spread on social media by a political party, adding that doing such thing for political point-scoring and degrading the government was condemnable.

The minister said the political party had spread fake news about death and rape of Pakistani students, which was totally baseless. “I believe that such shameful act should not be done in politics,” he added.

He claimed that pictures of Bangladeshi students were posted on social media with the caption alleging that the Pakistani students had been killed in the incident. He clarified that there was a clash between local students and Arab students, after which the incident took place. He added the government was helping Pakistani students who wanted to come back.

“Kyrgyz foreign minister has said that no deaths have occurred in the incident and that the situation is peaceful,” said Deputy PM Ishaq Dar. He said he had held detailed discussions with his Kyrgyz counterpart, adding the Pakistani ambassador in Kyrgyzstan kept giving details from time to time.

Dar said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was looking into the matter. He also said that about 16 students had sustained injuries, out of which four were Pakistanis. “The injured students included Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Arab students,” added the foreign minister.

Dar said about 130 Pakistani students have returned to the country so far and almost 540 more will return on Sunday. He said they had activated the emergency unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

About the incident, Dar said the Kyrgyz FM said their opposition was running campaigns against international students and that was against the incumbent government’s policy.

Dar said he and Ameer Muqam were set to leave for Bishkek; however, the Kyrgyz FM told them not to come, as the situation had been brought under control. The foreign minister said fake news was spread on social media, adding that not a single student had been killed. The minister said that about 11,000 students were in Bishkek while 6,000 were in different other cities of Kyrgyzstan.

Meanwhile, 175 Pakistani students arrived at the Allama Iqbal International Airport from Bishkek on Sunday night. Attaullah Tarar welcomed the students at the airport and shook hands with them. He said Pakistan was in touch with the Kyrgyzstan government, adding that transport and food have been arranged for students.

The information minister said all arrangements had been made for the return of students at Lahore and Islamabad airports and Pakistan ambassador in Kyrgyzstan was in constant contact with students.

Separately, Federal Minister for Petroleum, Senator Musadik Masood Malik said on Sunday Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had ordered to ensure all-out support to students coming back from Bishkek to reach their hometowns safely.

Addressing the students returning from Bishkek and media at the Islamabad airport, the minister offered his heartfelt sympathies to the students for facing violence in Kyrgyzstan. He said the government made efforts but due to limited mission in Kyrgyzstan, it was unable to make extraordinary interventions. Due to limited capacity, the Pakistani mission abroad was not prepared for such emergency.

“The federal cabinet, on behalf of the government, extends an apology for the predicament the Pakistani students faced. We are running special flights to bring back all those who want to return and would not force senior students who intend to stay as their final examinations are ahead,” he said.

The minister said the government had demarched the Kyrgyzstan government and got the surety from them that no more mob attacks would be allowed on Pakistani students. “People made personal calls to me, the ambassador and we established a hotline at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Embassy in Kyrgyzstan with four to five people operating the hotline to assist our students,” he said.

Musadik Malik vowed that the Government of Pakistan would support its children in distress all over the world. “Our foreign minister is also in contact with the Kyrgyz counterpart and our embassy is also engaged with them. We will bring every child through special flights and two more are ready to repatriate them,” he said.

The minister underlined that the government was taking commitment from the Kyrgyzstan government for protection of Pakistani students staying in their country. He announced that it was the government’s responsibility to send students to their homes and would ensure all required arrangements in that regard.

“In case of any problem, the students can reach out to us and the government will do the rest. I welcome you with a painful heart as I share the feelings what your parents had been going through due to the tragedy abroad. These students have passed through great pain and distress and my heart goes out with them,” he added.

Reacting sharply to Minister Attaullah Tarar’s allegations, PTI senior leader Ali Muhammad Khan told Geo News that Pakistani students were facing severe difficulties in Bishkek, but the Pakistani authorities were doing almost nothing for them.

Speaking in ‘Naya Pakistan Shahzad Iqbal Ke Sath’, he said those students who wanted to return to Pakistan should be brought back immediately, and those who wanted to stay there to complete their studies should be provided complete protection. He alleged that Pakistani government launched their efforts 24 hours late for providing its students in Bishkek any help.

He said if no Pakistani student was martyred in violence there, it was a matter of satisfaction, but the government should not criticise those who were expressing their concerns for the safety of students.

Ali Muhammad said Information Minister Atta Tarar and the foreign ministry woke up late to the welfare of Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan. He said it was a failed government; it was formed on the basis of form 47 and they had nothing to offer to people.

In a veiled reference to Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz donning different police uniforms, he said they [the government authorities] could do only one thing; wear one uniform and then the other. He said farmers suffered badly during this government’s tenure and its Foreign Office was doing nothing on the Bishkek issue. In fact, they are incapable of doing anything properly.

He asked if the PTI had asked those Pakistani students to send their messages of distress on social media.