ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday announced setting up of an inquiry committee to probe into the factors and causes that led to mob attacks on Pakistani students in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and also investigate the role of Pakistan’s mission in Bishkek in facilitating the students during the crisis.

Speaking at a news conference along with Foreign Secretary Mohammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi soon after arriving from Kyrgyzstan, Dar, who is also deputy prime minister, said the inquiry body, headed by Additional Secretary Administration Mohammad Saleem, will probe into the May 18 mob violence in Bishkek.

He said the committee will coordinate with Kyrgyz authorities and review all the findings and developments in Bishkek and submit its report within two weeks.

Following the May 18 mob attacks, 3,233 Pakistani students have been brought back from Bishkek so far. He further said that 513 more students will return on flights arranged by the federal government, while 290 students will return on flights arranged for by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government.

“So the total number of students to be brought back will reach 4,036 students,” he said, adding that the government, particularly the foreign ministry, will monitor this closely.

About his visit to Kyrgyzstan, Dar said that after attending SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting at Astana in Kazakhstan, he visited the Kyrgyz Republic to take stock of situation following riots and mob attacks on Pakistani students in Bishkek.

He said during his interaction Bishkek with his Kyrgyz counterpart, he was informed that situation in the capital ‘is totally under the control and normalcy returned’.

He said that the Kyrgyz authorities also assured him that perpetrators of the riots would be punished according to the country’s law.

He further said that the Kyrgyz authorities also informed him that the riots were not Pakistan-specific and students from other countries including Bangladesh, India and some Arab countries were also targeted.

“But the Kyrgyz authorities assured me that they have zero-tolerance towards violent incidents and also have rounded up scores of people involved in the riots,” he added.

Dar further stated that he declined the offer to stay overnight in Bishkek since he had to return to Islamabad and then head to Tehran for accompanying Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to express condolences to the Iranian leadership on the tragic helicopter crash of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, his foreign minister and others.

During his meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Dar said that he was also informed the Kyrgyz President has made a public statement that he would not tolerate any such incidents, adding that foreign students and workers are valuable guests who contribute to Kyrgyzstan’s economy.

According to Dar, the President said intelligence agencies had identified and also arrested perpetrators of the attacks.

To a question about what arrangements the government has made for the students who have returned to Pakistan, Dar acknowledged that their medical future is already in question, as the Higher Education Commission (HEC) does not recognise the medical certificates obtain from abroad.

He said that the Prime Minister has already constituted a committee under his watch to figure out the solution for the issue and to figure out how to incentivise students wanting to go abroad and pursue medicine to study in Pakistani medical universities so that they do not struggle with degree recognition with the HEC later on.

To another query, Dar said that the decision of the future of these students as to whether they should go back or not is entirely up to the students and their families.

He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already been directed to beef up Pakistan’s missions in Kyrgyzstan to assist the Pakistani nationals, manage their affairs on the diplomatic level and secure their safe return.

He also stated that he was also informed that 1,100 Pakistani nationals are currently working in different industries and doing jobs in Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz government is planning to deport them due to their illegal stay in the country.

“I was shocked to hear that these 1,100 workers there, came on the guise of being tourists and then started working without any visa or legal documents…Naturally, the government is trying to trace them so that they can be deported. If we were in the same situation, we would also not let such people off the hook,” he said.

However, he added that during his interaction with the Kyrgyz deputy prime minister, he requested to regularise their stay instead of deporting them, to which he agreed.

He said that Kyrgyzstan has a huge potential to accommodate Pakistani skilled workforce and the government will take all out measures to export Pakistani human capital to the Central Asian state.

Besides meetings with the Kyrgyz leadership, Dar also met a group of Pakistani medical students at Bishkek Airport on Tuesday where listened to their concerns about the recent events of violence in Bishkek.

According to Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, a total of 10,000 students are studying in various educational institutions of Kyrgyzstan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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