Pakistan’s parliament will consider whether the French envoy should be expelled after increasing pressure and violent protests from the hardline, now-banned Islamic political group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
The interior minister, Sheikh Rashid, went on national TV to explain that “after long negotiations between the government of Pakistan and the TLP, this has been agreed that we will table a resolution in parliament today to expel the French ambassador.”
The expulsion of the French ambassador was one of the four demands made by the TLP with which the government is negotiating despite banning it last week. The TLP also wants the release of their leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was detained ahead of TLP’s April 20 deadline to expel the French ambassador. Furthermore, the group wanted the release of hundreds of arrested workers and the dismissal of the interior minister.
On the back of these demands, the interior minister has already committed to withdrawing the cases against those arrested in protests in recent weeks, while the TLP has agreed to end its sit-ins.
These talks come after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned that the removal of the French ambassador could damage trade relations with Europe, where half of the country’s exports go.
The TLP started its campaign after French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to a French teacher who was beheaded for showing his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson on free speech. The failure to condemn the actions of the teacher and the publication of the cartoons angered the TLP, which started mass deadly protests. The group blocked roads and railways, assaulted police, and burned public property. As a result, four police officers were killed, almost a dozen were taken hostage, but subsequently released. Over 800 people were wounded in the violence.
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