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Pakistan violence: Imran Khan government fails to control riots that erupted from protests against France

Several videos have surfaced on social media which show armed security personnel joining the rioting TLP.

On April 12, violent clashes started to erupt in Pakistan as its government failed to fulfil its promise to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi. In November last year, Imran Khan-led Pakistani government bent its knees in front of TLP and promised Rizvi that it would bring a bill in the Parliament to legally expel the French Ambassador from the country over cartoons published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

It has been over a week, and more incidents of violence are being reported in the neighbouring country. Recently, videos had emerged suggesting army personnel shifting their support to TLP. Notably, Khadim Hussain Rizvi had died just a couple of days after striking a deal with the Pakistani government last year. His son Saad Hussain Rizvi took charge of TLP as its leader. Saad is leading violent protests across the country.

Last week, as the Pakistani government could not fulfill the promise to bring the bill to Parliament, a new deal was struck with TLP that the French Ambassador would be expelled by April 20. However, Saad was arrested last week that resulted in more violent protests. The protests continued for three straight days, and as a result, the Pakistani government imposed a ban on the organization.

The ban irked its members further, and reports of more clashes emerged from Pakistan. This time, TLP took several police officers hostage and a deputy-superintendent rank officer was reportedly tortured in Lahore on April 18.

TLP claims police brutality

While Pakistani Police claimed that TLP members damaged public property and stole two tankers with over 50,000 litres of Petrol, TLP alleged that Police used unnecessary force against its members. It also claimed that dozens of protesters had died due to Police brutality. TLP further contended that it would not bury the dead bodies of its workers until the government expelled the French Ambassador.

TLP is getting support from every corner of the country. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Islamist extremist leader Fazal-ul-Rehman’s Pakistan Democratic Movement, Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Former head of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, and several personnel from the security forces have extended their support for TLP. The videos that are emerging from the neighboring country show how Imran Khan’s government has failed miserably in controlling the extremists.

The members of the opposition have blamed PM Imran Khan for the situation in Pakistan. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, blamed Imran Khan’s government for the violent protests. In the Parliament, he asked if they had struck a deal, why the Parliament was not informed about that. He also blamed the government for curbing the voice of the media by not letting them publish reports about the burning situation in Pakistan.

France had asked its citizens to leave Pakistan

On April 15, France directed its citizens and companies to leave Pakistan amid violent protests against the nation temporarily. “Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy wrote in an email to French citizens.

Pakistan attempts to divert attention to Kashmir

Pakistan, in an attempt to divert the attention from the rising cases of violence in the nation, has again touched the chord of Kashmir. Reports suggest that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was on a three-day visit to UAE, claimed that UAE wants to mediate talks between India and Pakistan. It was reported that a senior diplomat of UAE claimed they are mediating between India and Pakistan to calm military tension in Kashmir.

According to Reuters, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on Wednesday that the UAE played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”. India has so far not reacted to the claims.

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