THE Pakistan government must be commended for the rapid response it showed in bringing back 268 Pakistanis from the troubled city of Osh, in Kyrgyzstan; but the tragic death of a Pakistani student from a stray bullet also showed how in these volatile regions, innocent people get caught in the crossfire. Pakistanis also became more acutely aware of this most recent outbreak of ethnic violence in one of the Central Asian Republics (CARs), reflecting the smouldering ethnic and political conflicts that have been part of these countries since they became independent after the demise of the Soviet Union. The power vacuum that was created was suppressed by authoritarian regimes which confronted nationalist-religio movements built up over decades of Soviet repression. Adding to the indigenous conflicts, there were also the new grab for natural resources of the region as well as the belated attempt by Russia to regain its lost space in this region. That is why the ethnic conflicts that periodically rise to the surface in the CARs always have the shadow of powerful regional and extra-regional powers, each using its proxy. Not only the US, but India and Israel were amongst the earliest intruders into this region - especially in the energy field. Chinas influence has also been increasing in the CARs as its Xinjiang province provides a natural trading partner to these regions. The Russians have traditionally been aiding the minority Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan so that this minority group has economic control over the majority. Earlier there had been violence between the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz also, but the present violence is one of the worst. The UN has now stated clearly that the present violence has been instigated by external players. The intervention of powerful players in the resource-rich regions of Asia is becoming a source of conflict and violence. Already, some in Kyrgyzstan were heard voicing support for the return of Russian forces. NATO forces already go across the CARs into Afghanistan and India also reportedly has a small military presence in this region. Israels presence has also gone largely unnoticed so far. With all this foreign presence, the people of the CARs will unfortunately continue to be held hostage to external interests. Pakistan should take note.