Pak govt surrenders before TLP, resolution tabled to expel French envoy

Pakistan PM Imran Khan (Photo: Reuters)

Succumbing to Islamists' demands, Pakistan's Imran Khan-led government on Tuesday decided to introduce a resolution in Parliament to expel the French ambassador and quash all criminal cases filed against the banned radical Islamist party TLP after they reached a deal following a marathon round of talks.

The agreement came a day after Prime Minister Khan said that the expulsion of the French ambassador was not a solution to stop the incidences of blasphemy in the western world, noting that it will only trigger incidents of blasphemy in other countries as in the West they call it freedom of expression.

"Under a marathon round of talks and an agreement reached with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a resolution on the expulsion of the French ambassador will be presented on Tuesday in the National Assembly, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said in a video statement.

The cases against TLP workers, registered under terrorism charges, will also be quashed. Besides, the names of TLP leaders from the Fourth Schedule will also be taken off, Rashid said.

The expulsion of the French ambassador is one of the main four demands of the radical Islamist party, which was banned last week after its members staged violent anti-France protests across the country.

On Monday, the National Assembly session was adjourned to meet again on April 22. However, shortly after the minister's statement, a session of the lower house of Parliament was summoned in the late afternoon.

Hours later, a resolution was tabled in the National Assembly for the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan over the issue of blasphemous cartoons being published in the European country.

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