Nation special report
LONDON: At a time when Pakistan appreciated the prompt steps of UK authorities taken against anti-country propaganda on London Cabs, a new campaign of similar nature has begun in British capital which Islamabad considers impinged the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
The pro-freedom Baloch political party Free Balochistan Movement has held Baloch Martyrs Day events in several regions of Balochistan and many cities of the world on Monday to pay tributes to the fallen heroes of Balochistan’s freedom struggle. According to details, activists of the Free Balochistan Movement conducted wall chalking in different cities of Balochistan including the capital city Quetta, Turbat, Pasni, Jiwani and other are as to pay homage to Baloch martyrs and demanded from Pakistani forces to withdraw from Balochistan. The FBM activists also held memorial gathering and references in Karachi and Quetta on 13 November to praise the sacrifices of Baloch Martyrs and to assure their families that the mission of their loved ones will be carried on and fulfilled. Apart from Balochistan, FBM activists also held Baloch Martyrs Day programs in Afghanistan, Germany, Sweden, Canada and Netherlands. The Baloch and other human rights activists strongly condemn Pakistani state atrocities against Baloch people and vowed to continue their peaceful and democratic struggle till the liberation of Balochistan. (Details of the events would be published in next edition for the information of readers. Third phase Despite attempts by Pakistan government to ban and censor its activities, the World Baloch Organisation once again carried out a strong advertising campaign demanding independence for Balochistan. In its latest campaign, the organisation put up ‘Free Balochistan’ posters on over 100 London public transportation buses. More than 100 London buses are carrying adverts that say “Free Balochistan”, “Save The Baloch People” and “Stop Enforced Disappearances”. In a move that is sure to infuriate Pakistan yet again, the posters were splashed across public buses in London. “This is the third phase of our London campaign to raise awareness about Pakistan’s human right abuses in Balochistan and the right of the Baloch people to self-determination,” said Bhawal Mengal, spokesperson for the World Baloch Organisation. “We started with taxi adverts, then did roadside billboards and now we are advertising on London buses.”
He said; “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. They are an anti-democratic bid to censor the voice of the Baloch people and cover up the war crimes ofthe Pakistan Army in Balochistan. 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.” Pakistan Government officials, in a clear bid to quash the freedom of expression and to intimidate human rights activists, called the campaign “malicious” and “anti-Pakistan.” 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 they were not on TfL property. WBO, he said, would continue, peacefully and respectfully, to speak out against human rights violations in Balochistan. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is a long-time supporter of human rights in Balochistan and is backing the advertising campaign. He says; “Pakistan is seeking to impose on the UK the same censorship about Balochistan that it imposes in side Pakistan.This is an outrageous bid to subvert our democratic tradition of allowing the free exchange of ideas. Pakistan’s iron-fisted rule in Balochistan isso brutal that it will not allow journalists, human rights monitors and aid agencies to enter the region. These adverts are much needed to defend the human rights of the Baloch people and to expose the atrocities of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies,” he said. NoordinMengal, anotherleadingWBOhuman rights campaigner, added, “Tens of thousands of Baloch people have been murdered by the Pakistan security forces or have disappeared. The killings are happening right now and are sadly aided byAmericanweapon systems that are being diverted to attack the secular and progressive Baloch people,including the misuse ofUS-supplied F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopters.” “Balochistan was previously a British protectorate that was granted independence in 1947. It was forcefully annexed by Pakistan in 1948 and has been militarily occupied ever since. The people of Balochistan have been denied the right to self-determination, contrary to the UN Charter. The World Baloch Organisation is a peaceful, lawful lobby against Pakistan’s war crimes and human rights abuses in Balochistan,” Noordin Mengal concluded. The previous incidents of advertising blitzkrieg had left Pakistan not justred faced but inflamed as well. Several taxis in London carried messages for freedom for Baloch is. At the time, the British High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned and a protest was lodged. In the list of the most-recent campaign, Pakistani officials have once again said that it is “malicious” and “anti-Pakistan.” It is not just in the UK that the message for Baloch independence is being spread. Earlier in the year, a busin Geneva had a massive sign carrying the same message. This had led to a fiery exchange between Pakistan and Swiss authorities. Meanwhile, several prominent Balochis living outside Pakistan continue to rally support for their cause and say are determined to not bow down to any pressure. “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,” said Mengal. Pak Foreign Office A spokesman for Pakistan Foreign Office said in Islamabad onThursday last; “We are aware of the sinister intentions behind such malicious campaigns. These should not be repeated anywhere”. Pakistan had conveyed its concern on the display of anti–Pakistan propaganda on London Cabs, both to the British High Commission in Islamabad and the Foreign Commonwealth Office in UK.The Transportfor London (TfL) authorities, aftertaking suitable action for removal of the malicious material, had initiated an inquiry in the matter and assured disciplinary action against the perpetrators. Amjad Malik Barrister Amjad Malik,ChairmanBoard of Governors of the Association of Pakistani Lawyers UK hastaken strong notice on the campaign to ignite public opinion artificially to divide the people of Pakistan and stir violence. “There is no basis and reason to perpetrate such incitement towards international terrorism and hoststates must cautiously investigate such campaign which may trigger violence in the region. It may cause serious rifts in the relations of two countries too” he said in a statement. “Acoercive attempt in London and NY through pumped up campaign to stir violence hatred and divide in Pakistan isstrongly condemned and must be defeated jointl efforts”, he said. Barrister Amjad Malik said that People of Baluchistan are enjoying the freedom of thought and conscience, political process, workable constitutional mechanism , free higher and Supreme Court bench to raise issues of public interest and free electric and print media actively act as a watch dog in the whole of Pakistan as a fifty pillar of state . They are integral part of Pakistan and they are well lived and cherished like all other provinces, people FATA, gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. All these things are a dream in occupied Kashmir.