Pakistan in turmoil; PM Imran convenes Parliament session

at 8:50 pm
Imran Khan

New Delhi (NVI) A controversial caricature made by an artist in France several months back has been resonating in Pakistan in the form of a civil unrest for days now.

A radical Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) has unleashed a violent form of protests, primarily to press two demands – expulsion of French Ambassador from Pakistan and halt to all imports from France. With each day, the protests are gaining strength and support, including from the personnel of security forces, according to reports emanating from Pakistan.

This has led to huge trouble for the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He is in a fix as he has to decide whether to succumb to the religious bigots or to maintain Pakistan’s relations with France, and of course to the rest of the Western world.

In a televised address in the wake of the increasing violent protests, Khan on Monday was pleading with the religious extremists, saying that he was on the “same page” as them on the issue but fulfilling their demands would not be in the interest of Pakistan. He said antagonising France would hurt Pakistan, especially in the field of economy which is already in shambles.

Failing to decide which way to go, Khan thought of an easy way out. He convened an urgent session of the country’s Parliament called National Assembly today to discuss the demands of the TLP which is on a rampage.

The National Assembly met briefly, during which a resolution was moved by a ruling party member, calling for the protection of the sanctity of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet Mohammad.

A brief discussion was held on the resolution, which included parts concerning the expulsion of the French Ambassador. The Assembly was then adjourned to meet again on Friday.

Amjad Ali Khan, member of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, while moving the resolution, requested formation of a special parliamentary committee to discuss the matter.

Following his request, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented a resolution for the formation of the committee.

Speaker Asad Qaiser said it was approved by Parliament even as there were loud chants of objection by the Opposition members.