The Netherlands recall embassy staff from Pakistan over threats: FM

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The Netherlands said Monday it has pulled several embassy staff members from Pakistan over persistent threats from religious groups angry over tweets by the far-right politician Geert Wilders.

Although the Dutch embassy in Islamabad remains open and visa requests are still being handled, “a whole number of people” have returned to the Netherlands, Foreign Minister Stef Blok said.

“Unfortunately Dutch citizens are being threatened, Dutch diplomats,” Blok told a news programme on the NPO public broadcaster’s Radio 1 channel.

“That is serious enough already” for the step to be taken, said Blok, adding that he had spoken with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi about the issue.

Blok did not specify how many embassy staff were affected by the move.

Last week, the Pakistani lawyer, who represented Aasia Bibi, a woman acquitted of blasphemy from death row, fled to the Netherlands.

The Dutch gave Saif-ul-Malook a temporary stay after he fled Islamabad when violence erupted following the Pakistani Supreme Court’s historic decision to acquit her.

Thousands of protesters poured on to the streets in protest, calling for her death after Supreme Court judges overturned the conviction.