Expulsion of French Ambassador (April 2021)

Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), in September 2020, demanded government of Pakistan to expel French ambassador over publishing blasphemous caricatures and officially projecting them on a government building. French president, cursed Emmanuel Macron bolstered the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo through out these contemptible activities. It fomented Muslim sentiments and many Muslim traders boycotted French products. But Pakistan did neither boycott French products nor took any step to sever diplomatic ties with France. TLP conducted several massive peaceful rallies throughout the country urging government to expel French ambassador. First rally was led by Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi RA from Shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajvery RA to Punjab Assembly. This rally started after Friday Prayer on September 4, 2020 and was bound up around sunset. On very next day (Sept 5, 2021), police raided residency of Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi to arrest him without any legitimate reason. The only apparent reason was govt.'s attempt to silence TLP's narrative of expulsion of French ambassador.

TLP waited till mid November and kept on asking govt. to expel French ambassador and boycott French products but all in vain. Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi then, addressing a rally in Karachi (on November 7, 2020), announced to hold a rally from Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi to Faizabad interchange on November 15, 2020. After the announcement, his residency was once again raided and the inviolate mosque (where he used to live) was desecrated. A brutal crackdown was carried out throughout the country and all the roads leading to Liaquat Bagh and Faizabad were sealed. Heavy contingents of Police and Rangers were deployed equipped with hundreds of thousands of tear gas shells. However, the participants faced around 55K shells of tear gas but made to Liaquat Bagh and hold the rally. Once reached at Faizabad, TLP announced sit-in with the demand of expulsion of French ambassador. Government kept cellular and internet services suspended from early morning (04:00 AM) of November 15 till around 03:00 AM November 17, 2020. Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) made many botched attempts to clear the interchange with heavy firing of tear gas shells and indirect bullets firing but the participants sustained all this for the noble cause of honour of the Last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad SAW. After heavy criticism from public over suspension of cellular and internet services and blockade of entry and exit points of federal capital, government contacted TLP for talks. Interior minister Brig. (R) Ejaz Shah, minister for religious affairs Noor ul Haq Qadri and commissioner Islamabad Aamir Ahmed signed an agreement with TLP agreeing that government will expel French ambassador within two to three months after tabling it in parliament for a strong message. TLP ended its sit-in after reaching this agreement.

Government did nothing during the three months and asked for some more time when deadline approached. After a few rounds of talks, TLP conditionally agreed to extend deadline till 20th April if prime minister would announce this agreement himself on mainstream media. Prime minister Imran Khan did so, and the deadline was extended. During these two months, government asked TLP to take back their demands and expulsion of French ambassador in a quid pro quo. TLP leadership was offered senate seats, ownership of land and bank balance of millions. But TLP leadership refused to bargain on the issue of Namoos e Risalat. As last attempt, government agreed to table a condemnation resolution in parliament which was against the agreement which explicitly stated expulsion of French ambassador. When asked, government committee clearly said that they wouldn't expel ambassador. Then TLP announced that it would wait till 11:59 PM of April 20, otherwise it'd hold a long march.

Allama Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi, chief of TLP, was arrested on very next day (April 12, 2021) of this announcement without any legal charges. An FIR was registered against him on a day after his arrest based on a crime which happened after his arrest as per FIR. As per the accord, TLP was not bound to act upon agreement because one party (government) reneged on it already (with arrest of Hafiz Saad). So, TLP called for peaceful protests in all cities. These protests sent a very strong message despite of mainstream media blackout and traffic remained suspended throughout the country for a couple of days. Rather than deeming the demand as a demand of whole country, government showed abuse of state power and directly fired bullets on protesters in many areas of country which caused a lot of fatalities. TLP didn't end sit-ins and preferred to sacrifice their lives for the noble of cause of Namoos e Risalat SAW. After clearing roads in many cities with vicious use of brutality, Punjab Police and Rangers attacked central sit-in in Lahore near shrine of Hazrat Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi RA and again fired bullets on participants which caused a severe uproar across the country. Two lives were lost on the spot and a few later in the hospital and jail but again forces failed to clear the road as participants endured all the teargas shells and were willing for scarifying their lives to firing. On this brutality, a countrywide strike was observed (on Monday April 19, 2021) on which government again contacted TLP and agreed to resolve matter through talk. During these talks, government agreed to table the resolution in parliament. TLP ended its sit-ins after parliament session. It was first time in Pakistan, expulsion of ambassador of a state on this issue, was discussed in parliament and a resolution was tabeled.