France has advised French citizens to temporarily leave Pakistan. It also warned of serious threats to French interests in the country. Two diplomatic sources said on Thursday after violent clashes there this week.
Thousands of Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) workers had clashed with police earlier this week. There were protesting against the arrest of their leader ahead of rallies denouncing French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). For Muslims, depictions of the Prophet are blasphemous.
The diplomatic sources said that a message had been sent overnight to French citizens. Meanwhile, companies following threats by TLP to target French interests have also been informed.
The sources said the embassy sent a message to French residents in Pakistan. It recommended that French nationals leave the country, It also asked French companies to shut down activities temporarily “due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan”.
Relations between Paris and Islamabad have worsened since the end of last year. President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to a French teacher. He was beheaded by an 18-year-old Muslim man for showing forbidden cartoons in a class on freedom of speech.
The images sparked anger and protests in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan.
Last year, TLP ended a similar protest against France only after the government signed a deal. The participants of the deal agreed to endorse a boycott of French products and making a move in parliament to expel the French ambassador. It had this week demanded the envoy be expelled.
After the Pakistan protests, the government has said it would outlaw the group, and the arrest of its leader this week sparked further protests against France.
“It’s a serious situation and we know that in Pakistan things can escalate quickly,” said one of the diplomatic sources. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s embassy in Paris did not immediately respond for comment.
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