Apr 20, 2021 12:51 UTC
  • Pakistan parliament to decide on French envoy expulsion after anti-France protests

Pakistan’s parliament is set to vote on whether to expel the French ambassador over the publication of derogatory cartoons attributing to Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to Mankind Prophet Muhammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) in France, which sparked large-scale protests in the Asian country.

According to reports, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed made the remarks in a video message on Tuesday after overnight talks with representatives of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which has been staging protests for more than a week to denounce the cartoons' publication and the April 12 arrest of the group’s leader, Saad Rizvi, who threatened the government with protests over the demand to expel the French envoy.

“After long negotiations with TLP, this has been agreed that we will table a resolution in parliament today to expel French ambassador,” Ahmed said, adding that the group had agreed to "call off its protest sit-ins from the entire country."

The fate of the resolution in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, where the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan holds a simple majority is unclear.

The TLP has been calling for the boycott of French products and the expulsion of French ambassador under an agreement reached with the government in February.

The TLP has been waging an anti-France campaign for months since French President Emmanuel Macron in October publicly attacked Islam in defense of the publication of derogatory cartoons.

Macron’s comments angered not only people in Pakistan, but across Islamic nations.

The French embassy last week called on all its citizens to leave the country.

The resolution comes a day after the Pakistani premier, in a televised address defended his decision to not expel the French envoy, saying it could affect the country’s trade ties with the European Union.