UK envoy shows inability of stopping ‘Balochistan campaign’


“Britain considers Balochistan as integral part of Pakistan but can’t control advertising in UK”; says Thomas Drew

Nation special report

LONDON: Notwithstanding Pakistan High Commission says that British authorities have stopped forthwith the campaign on Balochistan in London but according to eye-witness reports, the campaign is still continued and hitting Pakistan’s image and reputation. In given scenario, the statement of British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew has added concern of Pak High Commission and Pak diaspora in Britain.

Thomas Drew

He has expressed his country’s inability to control the advertisements about Balochistan in London. “I understand the strength of feeling about adverts in London.
The British Government does not and cannot control advertising in the UK. But our own position is clear about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan, of which Balochistan is and will continue to be an integral part,” Samaa TV quoted Drew as saying in response to concerns about advertisements about Balochistan in London.
According to informed sources, Pakistan High Commission and Pak diaspora were very much concerned over this drive tantamount to tarnishing the soft image of Pakistan.The HighCommissioner Syed Ibne Abbas called a meeting of overseas countrymen at the high commission on Thursday and discussed this and other confronting issues.
Transport for London (TfL) removed posters with themessages “FreeBalochistan:save the Baloch people” from London buses.It isthe second time in asmany weeksthatsuch posters have appeared onLondon’sstreets. On the first occasion, on Nov 2, posters appeared on London taxis.
“The Pakistan High Commission in London complained to TfL asking for those advertisements to be removed,” said MuneerAhmed of the High Commission, adding that TfL acted quickly, removing the posters the next day. “They have acknowledged our complaint and have said they will get back to us,” he said. According to a media report, aTfLspokesperson said: “This advert does not comply with our advertising guidelines. It was accepted in error by our advertising partner and was not referred to usfor our consideration. We have instructed that all such adverts must be removed immediately.” Pakistan officials have called the campaign malicious and antiPakistan.
They pressurised the British Government to remove WBO’s adverts. Indeed, within 24 hours, Transport for London ordered the removal of the taxi adverts; though the billboards remained because theywere not on TfL property. The World Baloch Organisation (WBO) onThursday condemned the statementmade by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan,Thomas Drew,regarding the ongoing advertising campaign inLondon -‘FreeBlochistan’.
“The WBO condemns the statement made by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, regarding our ongoing advertising campaign in London rejecting the call to ‘Free Balochistan, ‘StopEnforcedDisappearances’ and ‘Save the Baloch people’,” theWBO said, in a statement. Reacting to the statement, the WBO said that the UK was contradicting the very values and principles it stood for.”The WBO sees thisstatement asimpartial and contradicting the very values and principles the UK stands for.
The HonourableBritishHighCommissioner isin no position to know or decide what the people of Balochistan want or what the future forBalochistan might be,” the statementsaid. “According to the UN Charter, which Britain has signed and pledged to uphold, the people of Balochistan have a right to self-determination. Only the people of Balochistan have the authority to decide their future,” the statement added. More than 100 London buses are carrying advertsthatsay “Free Balochistan”, “Save The Baloch People” and “Stop Enforced Disappearances”.
Bhawal Mengal, spokesperson for the World Baloch Organisation (WBO), said, “This is the third phase of our London campaign to raise awareness about Pakistan’s human right abusesinBalochistan and the right of the Baloch people to self-determination. We started with taxi adverts, and then did roadside billboards and now we are advertising on London buses.” “The attempts by the Pakistan Government to pressure the UK to ban our adverts have failed. The campaign is powering ahead and will continue for weeks to come.The bullying tactics of Pakistan are an attack on freedom of expression. This is a peaceful advertising campaign. Pakistan’s aggressive reaction is a bare-faced attempt to intimidate the UK Government and Baloch human rights defenders,” he added.