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Safety Assured

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The recent events in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan highlight the dangerous nature of misinformation that fuels dissent leading to mob violence. A simple brawl involving Egyptian students quickly developed into a violent episode, targeting hundreds of international students including Pakistanis and Indians and exposing the challenges faced by these students in foreign countries. Thankfully, the government was prompt in its response to ensure the safety of these students.

The Foreign Office showed excellent diligence and coordination in evacuating 540 students from Kyrgyzstan with its rapid resources and the use of special flights to bring the students back to their families. The assurance from Finance Minister Ishaq Dar that no Pakistani students were killed gave a sense of relief to the anxious families back home, waiting for their children to arrive safely. The Foreign Office’s deft handling of the situation has set a benchmark for crisis management, reflecting the effectiveness of the systems in place. The main catalyst behind the incident was the spread of unchecked videos and inflammatory posts on social media, highlighting the need for local and international authorities to develop a strong mechanism that scrutinizes the information posted online and prevents the spread of false information. Such content must be carefully monitored by these social media platforms and content that has the potential to incite fear and hostility between individuals must be curbed.

Another important thing to note here is that although many Pakistanis were victims of this unrest, the violence was not directed at them alone. This was an attack on international students, including Bengalis, Indians, and Iranian students. Although this incident showcases the wider issue of xenophobia that has infiltrated society, the Kyrgyz authorities have taken steps to counter this by increasing security and holding the perpetrators accountable for these actions.

Moving forward, it is important for educational institutions and governments to work together to prevent such incidents from happening again. We need a system that dispels rumors quickly before they escalate into irreversible situations. We have already seen how xenophobia has been on the rise since the genocide in Palestine began last year. Governments around the world must strictly avoid such incidents to ensure they do not become commonplace.

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