Reacting to ‘Free Balochistan’ posters in London

By: Sidra Jafri

It seems that Pakistan’s national security is so fragile that just a few posters can threaten it.

The appearance this week of ‘Free Baluchistan’ advertisements and posters on taxi cabs and public transport as well as paper flyers across London has drawn the ire of Pakistan’s Foreign office. The British High Commissioner was summoned by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua because these posters and slogans were seen as “directly attacking Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” According to a statement released by the Foreign Office, “the high commissioner was informed that Pakistan, in line with the UN Charter, rejects actions and advertisements with malicious content that impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

This is reminiscent of Pakistan’s response in end September when posters demanding a ‘Free Baluchistan’ were seen on taxi cabs and public transport vehicles in Geneva, Switzerland. These posters led Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva to send a letter to his Swiss counterpart stating that these posters were “an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty.” According to the letter “Any notion of ‘Free Baluchistan’ is a flagrant attack on [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.”

At that time too Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned the Swiss Ambassador to lodge a protest against the display of “anti-Pakistan posters and an insidious paid campaign against Pakistan.” According to the statement release by the Foreign office Pakistan protested strongly that Switzerland had allowed “its space to [be used by] a terrorist organization to carry out activities against Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in contravention of the UN Charter and international law.”

In that instance the Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Mr Raza Rabbani apparently demanded that Pakistan expel the Swiss envoy and his statement was welcomed “amidst thumping of desks by members from both sides of the aisle.” Law Minister Zahid Hamid blamed the ‘foreign hand’ aka India “In view of the connections which India maintains with Baloch separatist leaders, and the fact that a large amount of money has been spent, it is obvious that India is behind this campaign.”

One day after this discussion, the Senate suspended the Pakistan-Switzerland friendship group for an indefinite period of time.

At that time Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States and a leading thinker tweeted “How posters violate sovereignty of a country, I wonder?”

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