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International

French Leave: Embassy asks French citizens to leave Pakistan after TLP protests

The French Embassy in Pakistan advised on Thursday its citizens and companies to leave the country temporarily after the protests by Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) escalated into violence.

“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy said in an email to French citizens.

“The departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines.”

Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish blasphemous caricatures depicting Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

On Wednesday, the Pakistani government moved to ban the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) whose leader had called for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Saad Rizvi was detained hours after making his demands, bringing thousands of his supporters to the streets in cities across Pakistan.

Two police officers died in the clashes, which saw water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets used to hold back crowds.

TLP supporters brought Islamabad to a standstill in November last year for three days with a series of anti-France rallies.

In this regard, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Wednesday had announced the decision to ban the TLP on the Punjab government’s recommendation under anti-terrorism law but added that the summary would be sent to the federal cabinet for its approval.

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