After Islamists protest, Pak government set to expel French ambassador

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Updated: Nov 17, 2020, 10:14 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Tehreek-e-Labbaik calls itself the guardian of Prophet Mohammad's honour. It considers itself the custodian of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws.

For the past two days, extremists have been camping outside Pakistan's capital Islamabad holding the entire country hostage.

They are members of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik which is a Far-Right Islamic political party. However, after two days of drama, the protest ended with the Pakistani government bowing down to extremists once again.

A deal has been signed and the radicals got what they wanted. An agreement was signed between the Tehreek-e-Labbaik and the Pakistan government with members of the Imran Khan cabinet being the signatories to the deal.

Pakistan's interior minister Brigadier R Ijaz Shah signed the deal and religious affairs minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri was the other signatory alongside the commissioner of Islamabad police and three members of Tehreek-e-Labbaik.

Pakistan government has promised to enact legislation which will ultimately lead to the expulsion of the French ambassador. Also, the Pakistan government has promised it won't send an ambassador to France.

Also, French products will be boycotted at the government level in Pakistan. Tehreek-e-Labbaik seems to have got its every wish, not just this, it also managed to secure the release of its arrested workers.

Once again, the Pakistani government has bowed down before the Islamists. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik is the same group that held Pakistan hostage when Asia Bibi was acquitted with their protests across major cities in Pakistan, they didn't allow her release. Ultimately, Asia Bibi and her family had to flee the country.

Back then, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had dared to warn them. Now, however, he seems to have played a part in fueling the chaos on Pakistan's streets by giving moral legitimacy to the Islamists through the attacks against France and its President Emmanuel Macron.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik calls itself the guardian of Prophet Mohammad's honour. It considers itself the custodian of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws. When France said it will defend the Prophet's cartoons, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik was outraged even when the Wuhan virus is raging in Pakistan, they took to the streets.

The last two days have been difficult for those who live in the areas affected by the protest, for almost two days, the Islamists virtually besieged Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It led to the disruption of mobile networks, the internet was shut down and routes towards Islamabad had to be closed. Now, Imran's ministers have struck a deal with the radicals. It exposes how Imran Khan shot himself in the foot by criticising the French president.

There are two clear takeaways: First, Imran Khan's words gave legitimacy to the protest by the Islamists, second, the protest and the concessions by Imran Khan show how weak his government really is and how fundamentalists can capture the capital - dictate policymaking in Islamabad and even decide the faith of foreign ambassadors.

The Pakistan government plans to bring in the legislation to evict the French envoy in two to three months while religion has dictated policymaking in Pakistan for many years now these protests show the power fundamentalists in the country hold when it comes to dictating Pakistan's political agenda.

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