Pakistan to seek parliament vote on expulsion of French ambassador
Islamabad, Apr 20 (EFE) .- Pakistan Tuesday said the government would table a resolution in parliament to seek a vote on whether to expel the French to break a logjam over protests by a banned Islamist group over the controversial cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the resolution would be tabled in the National Assembly later Tuesday.
“After a long discussion between the government and the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, it has been decided that we will table a resolution in the National Assembly today on the expulsion of the French ambassador from the country,” Rashid said in a video message posted on his Twitter.
The outlawed Islamist group organized violent protests across the country that left at least four dead and 800 wounded in the past few days.
The expulsion of the French ambassador is one of the demands by the group for calling off its protests.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised speech Monday, said the expulsion of the French ambassador would only harm Pakistan because half of the country’s exports go to the European Union.
Deadly clashes broke out as members of the radical group took to the streets in major Pakistan cities after police arrested their leader Saad Rizvi.
Rizvi had given the ultimatum, asking the government to expel the French diplomat by Apr.20 over the cartoons that Islamists say were blasphemous to the Prophet.
French President Emmanuel Macron had controversially defended the cartoons last year, sparking anti-France anger in Pakistan.
Last week the French government advised its nationals to leave Pakistan in the wake of growing threats.
The protests over the past week paralyzed businesses in Pakistan and disrupted routine life across the country, particularly Punjab, the most populous province.
The Islamist party claims that the government in November last year agreed that it would cut off diplomatic ties with France and expel the French envoy.
Macron had defended the cartoons with some alleged insulting remarks about Islam in October last year.
Khan had accused Macron of attacking and ridiculing Islam and hurting the sentiments of millions of Muslims across the world following his comments.
Macron made the remarks after a young Chechen Islamist, on Oct.16, beheaded a French schoolteacher for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to pupils in a lesson about freedom of expression. EFE