Pakistani Parliament to vote on expulsion of French ambassador

Pakistani Parliament

The Pakistani Parliament is to vote on whether to expel the French ambassador from the country.

The expulsion of the ambassador is a key demand of the TLP movement which has been involved in clashes with the security services for the past week.

The move came amid negotiations after days of violent clashes that have seen at least four policemen killed and more than 800 people wounded. Both sides have exchanges accusations of brutality and criminality.

On Tuesday, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said a resolution would be brought before parliament later in the day “after long negotiations” with the TLP.

“TLP will, in the whole country and especially from Masjid Rehmat ul Lil Alimeen [where the Lahore protests were centred], end its sit-in protests and talks and negotiations will move forward,” he said in a video message.

Rasheed said legal cases against all TLP activists arrested during the recent violence would be dropped, and those TLP leaders who were listed under anti-terrorism legislation would be cleared.

Violent clashes have taken place in Pakistan over the past week

Last night Prime Minister Imran Khan called for Muslim-majority countries to band together to lobby Western governments to criminalise the insulting of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

In a televised address to the nation, Khan said: “We need to explain why this hurts us, when in the name of freedom of speech they insult the honour of the Prophet.

“When 50 Muslim countries will unite and say this, and say that if something like this happens in any country, then we will launch a trade boycott on them and not buy their goods, that will have an effect.”

Since November, the TLP has demanded that Pakistan expel the French ambassador over comments by President Macron where he defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to republish blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Last week, Pakistan’s government designated the TLP a “terrorist” organisation and said it would begin the process of delisting the group as a political party recognised by the country’s Election Commission.

Meanwhile, conflicting reports emerged on Tuesday regarding the release of Saad Hussain Rizvi, chief of the TLP, from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

The public relations officer of the Punjab prisons department, Attiq Ahmed, told Dawn.com that Rizvi, who was taken into custody by police on April 12, was released from prison today.

The same was confirmed by TLP leader Faizan Ahmed, who added that Rizvi is expected to address the party’s supporters.

But jail superintendent Asad Warraich, when approached by Dawn.com, said he had no information about Rizvi’s release and that no release order had been received so far. And the government has not commented on the status of the TLP chief.

Last week, Rizvi, in a video message, had asked TLP workers to be ready to launch a long march if government failed to meet the deadline. The move prompted the government to arrest him on April 12. Outraged, the TLP issued a call for countrywide protests.

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