| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

Pakistan halts operations against anti-French protesters after strong public outrage

Public resentment pitched high when the police launched operation against the protesters in eastern city of Lahore. At the heart of public outrage is the revoking of a six months old agreement by the government with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan or the TLP, a political and religious group.

The TLP championed the cause to expel French ambassador over the repeated incidents of blasphemy of Muslim Prophet Muhammad and their official patronage by the French government.

The TLP supporters allegedly attacked a police station in Lahore and kidnapped 11 policemen including this senior official. Police says an oil tanker with over 50,000 litre of fuel was also taken away by the protesters. The group freed the police forces a day after taking them.

A strong public reaction once against forced the government to halt its security operation. There were country-wide wheel-jam strike and closure of business after many opposition parties and other religious group announced to support the TLP’s demand to expel French ambassador.

Alarmed by overwhelmingly public support, Prime Minister Imran Khan struggled hard in his live address to the nation to calm down public anger.

Pakistan banned TLP last week declaring it a terrorist organization in a country where violence against the police has become a norm by almost by all major political parties to press their demands.

The government has resumed negotiations with the TLP which is not willing to settle down on anything short of expulsion of French ambassador. Now after the failed security operation, the TLP is on far more strong footing and therefore, the government is running out of option but to also lift ban on its political activities.