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ANTI-FRANCE PROTESTS IN PAKISTAN: TENSION OVER MACRON REMARKS

Author: Vaibhav Goyal, IV year of BA.LLB(H) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University (SSGRC, Hsp.), Chandigarh


“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination”

-Mark Twain


The French consulate in Pakistan on April 15, 2021, prescribed to its nationals asking them to leave the country for the interim period due to following dangerous protests by Tehreek-I-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) against France. Even though there are no reports of nonconformists zeroing in on French inhabitants up to this point, the Consulate said that the move is "advisable".


"Due to the predicted threats to French nationals and French associations in Pakistan, all are urged to temporarily leave the country," the Consulate said. "The flights will be operated by existing carriers." Extra safety personnel are deployed in the Consulate and it is shut for the general public and all its outer boundaries are covered by Shipping Compartments.


Police in Pakistan said TLP had taken six police personnel as detainees in Lahore on Sunday following seven days of wild aggressions following the arrest of the TLP Chief by the Police. Two cops died in the protests this week. The protests began when France didn’t object to showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Last year in October, French President Emmanuel Macron defended the teacher when the latter showed cartoons of the Prophet in a classroom. This appeared to be a shock to Muslim Community, including Pakistan, where they boycotted the French items.


A Senior cop and two constables were among the six being held as detainees by an ally of (TLP), said Lahore police representative Arif Rana. "The TLP activists have two fuel huge hauliers containing a huge quantity of oil. They are throwing petrol bombs and stones at security forces, and shooting because of which 11 cops are harmed," Rana said.


Depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is very sacred in Islam and are viewed as exceptionally hostile by Muslims if done in a wrong way. Even though it is banned under anti-terror law, the TLP has emerged as a radical force in Pakistan maintaining the Barelvi hostility. The TLP-drove violent protests had prompted the arrest of TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi from Lahore. Many outfits, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front of Lashkar-e-Taiba), Sipah-E-Sahaba, and Tehreek-I-Taliban Pakistan have figured out how to operate in Pakistan despite being restricted. Now, the question lies in the way that, the ban on the TLP will have any impact on Pakistan's war with radical Islamist powers.


The Government didn't do anything until TLP blocked highways and vandalized public and private property. Various towns were held hostage for three days, and it’s evident now that the government had fallen with mob ferocity. Finally, when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government finally acted, it banned TLP. Last year, the PTI government had gone a step further to have a common concurrence with TLP by yielding to its unreasonable requests over comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that had been viewed as Islamophobic. The mutual agreement that pledged to remove the French diplomat may have finished the conflict, yet it weakened the position and authority of the Government.


Hitting out at 'Western countries', Pakistan PM Imran Khan on April 17, 2021, clarified that his administration is serious against Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), particularly over horde viciousness. He told 'Western govts' to take action against those purposefully spreading their message of scorn against Muslims by abusing Prophet Muhammed. The TLP goes against the 'disrespectful' personifications of the Prophet distributed in France by Charlie Hebdo and French President Emmanuel Macron by the mob protests. They have mentioned that the Ambassador of France should be sent home and import of product from France be precluded.


On the proposition of the Punjab (Pakistan) govt, the Pakistan Interior Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed prohibited the TLP under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997. This act restored the severe protests which provoked the Pakistan Army's crackdown and government’s general ban on social media including WhatsApp and Twitter during mounting protests. Pakistan govt is presently under outrageous pressure from the International Watch-Dog Body, FATF which will meet in France in June 2021 and therefore can't go directly against the Macron government, while appeasing its local associate - TLP - Pakistan's fourth-largest party in Parliament.


The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the worldwide money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The Inter-Government body sets worldwide guidelines that expect to forestall these criminal operations and the mischief they cause to society. As a policy-making body, the FATF is tasked to produce the important political will to achieve national legislative and administrative reforms.


A year ago, approximately 445 French residents and 30 organizations were registered in Pakistan, as indicated by a French government site. On Twitter, the hashtag #FranceLeavePakistan was moving with 55,000 tweets beginning on Thursday evening.


References

Suchitra Karthikeyan, Imran Khan Warns 'western Govts' Against Insulting Prophet Amid TLP's Anti-France Protest, RepublicWorld.Com, April 17, 2021

Vinay Kaura, Pakistan anti-France protests: TLP’s emergence is a result of Imran Khan govt's inexcusable policies, Firstpost, April 16, 2021

Agence France-Presse, French citizens advice leaving Pakistan as protests worsen, The Guardian, April 15, 2021

Asad Hashim, Pakistan anti-France protests called off after ‘deal’ with gov’t, Aljazeera, November 17, 2020

Naveed Siddiqui, French embassy advises citizens to leave Pakistan after TLP protests, April 15, 2021