Protests in Pakistan for the arrest of the leader of Tlp (AP)

  • Macron: "Freedom of expression is not negotiable for us"


April 20, 2021 The government of Pakistan will ask Parliament to decide on the expulsion of the French ambassador, who has been targeted by the Islamists. 

The Islamabad executive thus yields to the demands of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (Tlp), a formation that has staged violent street protests in recent months against the French president, Emmanuel Macron, guilty of defending the caricatures of Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo in the name of freedom of expression. 

Interior Minister Sheikj Rashid Ahmed said the resolution will be presented to the National Assembly on Thursday and that the Tlp has agreed to call off new demonstrations across the country. Last week, the arrest of the TLP leader, who had called a march in Islamabad, triggered clashes in which at least six policemen and an unknown number of demonstrators were killed. Eleven other officers had been taken hostage for hours in a mosque. 

Although the government has labeled the TLP as a terrorist organization and thousands of its sympathizers have been arrested in recent weeks, none of them will be denounced and the criminal proceedings already started will be dropped, the minister explained.

The French embassy recommended all citizens to leave the country and the Paris Foreign Ministry repatriated all non-essential staff. The Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in a televised appeal asked supporters of the Tlp to stop the protests. "For France it makes no difference," Khan said, "if you continue to protest for the rest of your life, you will only harm your own country without getting anything."