The Pakistani government has decided this week to ban the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a religious party that has disrupted everyday life through protests and demonstrations in various cities across the country.
This was announced by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed at a press conference on Wednesday.
Sheikh Rashid said that the decision to ban was taken under the anti-terrorism law and the Punjab provincial government had recommended banning the organization after which the Interior Ministry has prepared a summary to ban Tehreek-e-Labbaik, a draft of which has been approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The recent protests by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) began on Monday after the arrest of party leader Saad Rizvi in Lahore. Meanwhile, party workers blocked roads in several cities, including Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. More than 300 people were injured in the clashes while trying to disperse the workers, five people, including two policemen, were killed.
What Tehreek-e-Labbaik Demands?
Tehreek-e-Labbaik had demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan and a boycott of French products over the publication of blasphemous sketches of the Prophet of Islam in France.
The federal government of Pakistan had reached a four-point agreement with Khadim Hussain Rizvi, former head of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, on November 16, 2020, demanding the deportation of the French ambassador to Islamabad. The French ambassador had to be sent back after the legislation was passed by the parliament.
In October last year, a French history teacher was assassinated for showing controversial sketches of the Prophet of Islam in his classroom, after which French President Emmanuel Macron promised to protect the country’s secular values.
What will be the consequences of the deportation of the French Ambassador to Pakistan?
The deportation of the French ambassador is not only complex but could have a direct impact on Pakistan’s international reputation and relations.
Relations between Pakistan and France were very good in the past but in recent times relations between the two countries have deteriorated due to the improvement and closeness of relations between France and India.
If Pakistan today, under pressure from a religious party, expels the French ambassador, it will have an impact not only on bilateral relations between Pakistan and France but also on various international forums such as the Security Council and the European Union.
The deportation of the French ambassador will provoke a strong reaction not only from France but also from other Western countries because any country that comes under pressure from a group and accepts their demands, Therefore, achieving an independent foreign and domestic policy becomes very difficult.
Although the FATF, an organization that prevents the financing of terrorists did not mention the Tehreek-e-Labbaik among the extremist organizations that were objected to. But France is a key member of the FATF and the deportation of its ambassador will certainly have an impact on Pakistan’s position.
It may be recalled that in February this year, the FATF had decided to keep Pakistan on the grey list and had given Pakistan till June to work further on the remaining three of the 27 recommended recommendations.