French embassy has asked all its nationals and companies to leave Pakistan amid security threats. In an email to French citizens, the embassy said, due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and companies are advised to temporarily leave the country. It said, the departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines.
Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed — deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
On Wednesday, Pakistani government moved to ban an extremist political party whose leader had called for the expulsion of the French ambassador. Saad Rizvi, leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was detained hours after making his demands, bringing thousands of his supporters to the streets in cities across Pakistan. Two police officers died in the clashes, which saw water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets used to hold back crowds. The TLP are notorious for holding days-long, violent road protests over blasphemy issues, causing major disruption in Pakistan.