Hindustan Times (East UP)
Govt forced to call vote on French envoy
ISLAMABAD: A banned Pakistani Islamist group called an end to violent nationwide anti-France protests on Tuesday after the government called a parliamentary vote on whether to expel the French ambassador and also halted criminal cases against the group’s members.
Pakistan outlawed the group Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) last week after its members blocked main highways, railways and access routes to major cities, assaulting police and burning public property.
The group has demanded that Pakistan expel French ambassador Marc Barety in retaliation for the publication in France of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Four police officers were killed, 11 taken hostage and more than 800 wounded, many seriously, during the week-long clashes. The Islamists said three of their members were killed.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned his nation on Monday that Pakistan risked paying a price if it expelled the French envoy, as half the country’s exports are sold to the EU.
Nevertheless, interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said on Tuesday that the government had agreed “after long negotiations with the TLP” to put a resolution before parliament on whether to expel the ambassador. Parliament was specially convened so that the motion could be tabled.
All criminal cases registered against the TLP would be withdrawn as a result of the agreement with the group, which had agreed in return to end its protests, the minister said.
The TLP responded by releasing an audio statement of its spokesman Shafiq Amini, saying, “It is requested to end protests wherever they are happening across the country.” However there was no immediate sign that crowds were dispersing at the protest in Lahore.