French nationals refuse embassy call to leave

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Islamabad

The French community in Pakistan is torn between disbelief, fear and annoyance in reaction to their embassy’s call for them to leave the country after rioting this week by an ultra right-wing party.

Most, it seems, have decided to stay put.
In a terse three-line email, accompanied by the words “urgent”, the embassy in Islamabad on Thursday recommended its nationals and French companies temporarily leave Pakistan, because of “serious threats”.

The email, which did not specify the nature of the risks, caused shock and consternation among the few hundred-strong French community.

Jean-Michel Quaran-totti, who has taught French at the American school in Islamabad for three years, was first alerted to the embassy advisory by a student.

“I won’t hide from you that at first, I felt a little bit of fear, panic,” he told AFP. “It’s not my first foreign country — I did a lot before arriving in Pakistan — but I was really shocked.

I didn’t expect to go through this.” His first thought was to pack up and leave, but after discussing the situation with colleagues he said reason took over from emotion. — AFP