Prime Minister Imran Khan believes that the West suffers from Islamophobia and he has been assigned the mission to unite the Muslim world to fight the trend. After the recent episode concerning the French cartoons Mr Khan condemned it in a number of tweets. He also castigated French President Emmanuel Macron for deliberately provoking Muslims and encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). “This is a time when President Macron could have put a healing touch and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarization and marginalization that inevitably leads to radicalization.” The criticism should have sufficed to silence the religious lobby without affecting state-to-state relations between Pakistan and France.
Mr Khan however went a step further by mollycoddling TLP leader Khadim Rizvi who was allowed to take out rallies against France in Karachi and Islamabad calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador and declaration of jihad against France. Instead of restraining the firebrand cleric from meddling in the affairs of the state, two federal ministers and the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad were sent to hold talks with the TLP. They signed an agreement to take a decision from the Parliament regarding the expulsion of the French ambassador within three months and not appointing Pakistan’s ambassador to France. As the government sought a delay in taking the matter to Parliament, the TLP went on the rampage last month, destroying government and private property, attacking passersby and kidnapping and torturing police officers. The government arrested TLP leaders and banned the organization though allowing it to appeal against the decision. A Treasury member meanwhile introduced a resolution in the National Assembly as promised to the TLP, which was sent to a parliamentary committee. As if this was not enough, the PM clarified that TLP and government have the same objective “though their methods are different.”
The EU Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for a review of trade relations with Pakistan and ending its eligibility for the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status. The resolution was overwhelmingly passed, with 662 for, three against and 26 not voting. Pakistan got GSP status when the country was under Nawaz Sharif. It would be sheer incompetence on the part of the PTI if the country was to lose it under Imran Khan. Meanwhile the FATF verdict is yet to come.