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Dutch ambassador to return to Pakistan after Wilders row: report


AFP |

The Dutch ambassador to Pakistan is to return to Islamabad next month after receiving a death threat last year, reportedly from Islamists angry over anti-Islam tweets by far-right politician Geert Wilders, Dutch media said Saturday.

Ardi Stoios-Braken “will fly back to Islamabad in early February,” the daily tabloid Algemeen Dagblad reported. She was on leave in the Netherlands in late October last year when she received word “that a letter arrived at the embassy from Pakistani authorities.”

“The letter spoke of a ‘specific threat’ and was related to the Mohammed cartoon contest which had already been cancelled months before,” the paper said. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in November that Stoios-Braken, a veteran diplomat, faced “threats” in Pakistan, apparently over “blasphemous depictions” by Wilders on Twitter.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court will decide next week whether to allow an appeal against Bibi’s acquittal, a lawyer involved in the case said.

Wilders in August called off a planned Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition that stirred anger in Pakistan. Pakistan’s interior ministry in October wrote a secret memo on plans to “target” the Dutch ambassador by the hardline Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party (TLP), media from both countries reported at the time.

The TLP, founded in 2015, led protests in August calling for Pakistan to sever diplomatic relations with the Netherlands over the Wilders cartoon contest. The TLP has denied making any threats.

Read more: Dutch pulls several Pakistan embassy staff over threats: FM

Meanwhile the Netherlands last year granted a temporary stay to a Pakistani lawyer who saved Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, from death row. The country accorded Saif-ul-Malook the temporary stay after he fled Islamabad when violence erupted following the Pakistani Supreme Court’s acquittal of Bibi on the charges.

The Pakistani government has since launched a crackdown on the TLP, charging its leaders with sedition and terrorism. But authorities also struck a deal with the protesters to end the violence, forming an agreement which included allowing a final review of the Supreme Court’s judgement.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court will decide next week whether to allow an appeal against Bibi’s acquittal, a lawyer involved in the case said.

© Agence France-Presse

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