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Pakistan govt forgets its right to expel diplomats, promises bill in National Assembly to expel French Ambassador today when house is not in session

Imran Khan's minister assured that the government has had a successful round of negotiations with TLP, which has agreed to end its protest across the country.

In its desperation to end the recent violence by workers and activists of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) which enveloped Pakistan throughout last week, a minister in the Imran Khan government said that the Imran Khan government will present a resolution on the expulsion of the French ambassador in the National Assembly later today.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in a video statement that the government has had a successful round of negotiations with TLP, which has agreed to end its protest across the country.

He said that the decision was taken after another round of talks with the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

However, Pakistan government seems to have forgotten its own rights in terms of ambassadors of foreign countries. A sovereign government does not need to take the approval of the parliament to expel an ambassador. Any govt can expel an ambassador or any diplomate or official working in embassy and consul offices by declaring them persona-non-grata. A govt does not even need cabinet approval to remove an ambassador, and there is no requirement to get parliamentary approval.

Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

According to article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the host nation at any time and for any reason can declare a particular member of the diplomatic staff to be persona non grata. After a diplomate has been declared persona non grata by the host country, they lose all diplomatic immunities. They are usually asked to leave the country within a stipulated period of time. Several nations have expels ambassadors of other countries using this provision, when the relationships between the nations had deteriorated. Therefore, Pakistan govt can easily expel Marc Baréty, the French Ambassador to Pakistan, by declaring him a persona non grata.

But for some reason, the Pakistan government has decided to raise the matter in the National Assembly and seek parliamentary approval to take action on the diplomate. It shows that the Imran Khan govt is finding it difficult to choose between offending Islamists and offending France, and wants to push the blame to the entire political establishment of the country.

Interestingly, while the minister assured that the bill will be presented in the National Assembly today, Dawn reports that there is no session scheduled for Tuesday. A day earlier, the session was adjourned to meet again on April 22 (Thursday) at 2 pm.

The minister added that the “cases registered against TLP supporters under the fourth schedule will also be dismissed and further rounds of talks will take place”.

Rashid said that he will give a detailed statement on the agreement in a press conference later in the day.

Riots erupted from protests against France in Pakistan

It may be noted that Pakistan has been witnessing violent protests as its government failed to fulfil its promise to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi. In November last year, the Imran Khan-led Pakistani government had 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.

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