Pakistan's UN representative asks Swiss authorities to take action against 'Free Balochistan' posters

Published September 18, 2017
A bus in Rue de Ferney of Grand Sacconex with the "Free Baluchistan" poster on it.—<em>DawnNews</em>
A bus in Rue de Ferney of Grand Sacconex with the "Free Baluchistan" poster on it.—DawnNews

Ambassador Farukh Amil, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations (UN), has written to the Swiss authorities to take action against “Free Balochistan” posters that have appeared in Geneva.

In a letter, written to Ambassador and Permanent UN Representative Valentin Zellweger on September 6 — a copy of which is available with DawnNews, Amil said that the posters that appeared in the area around Rue de Ferney of Grand Saconnex “mentioned the name of Balochistan House (BH) as a sponsor.”

Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva “has counted eight posters and one digital poster on display since this Monday [September 3],” the letter reads.

According to the ambassador, a car “remained parked near [the digital poster] and seemed to be guarding [it].”

“It is quite conceivable that local city authorities received certain revenue fee for display of these posters,” Amil says in the letter, stressing that “any notion of 'Free Baluchistan' is a flagrant attack on [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.”

According to the letter, the BH — the apparent sponsor of these posters — is an affiliate of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which is a “listed terrorist organisation under the laws of Pakistan and other countries, including the United Kingdom.”

“The fact that terrorists or elements linked with terrorists operate openly for their propaganda campaigns in the peaceful and serene city of Geneva, capital of the United Nations, is a matter of grave concern,” the letter reads.

“The use of Swiss soil by terrorists and violent secessionists for nefarious designs against Pakistan and its 200 million people is totally unacceptable,” said the ambassador, demanding that “the incident is fully investigated with a view to blocking its recurrence in the future.”

The ambassador also expressed hope that the Swiss authorities would, “proceed against the local accomplices of the BLA and deal with those individual/companies […] who wittingly or unwittingly support BLA.”

In 2006, the federal government exercised its powers under Section 11(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, to declare the BLA a terrorist organisation.

The decision was made after the government cancelled the arms licences issued earlier to main nationalist leaders in Balochistan.

At the time, the federal government's investigation had said that the BLA was involved in sabotage activities, including rocket attacks on national installations, civilian population and security forces. It was also accused of laying landmines in various parts of the province.

Since the organisation was first banned, a number of members of BLA have surrendered themselves to the Pakistan Army after mediation efforts in the province.

Protest lodged with Swiss envoy

Ambassador-designate of Switzerland, Thomas Kelly, was summoned to the Foreign Office (FO) today by Additional Secretary (Europe) Zaheer A. Janjua to lodge a protest against the display of "anti-Pakistan posters and an insidious paid campaign against Pakistan", an FO handout read.

"A strong protest was lodged with the ambassador on allowing the use of Swiss territory by elements linked with a terrorist organisation perpetrating terrorism and violence in Pakistan," the FO said.

The FO highlighted that these posters "had been sponsored by a terrorist organisation proscribed by Pakistan as well as some other countries."

"The ambassador was asked to convey to his government Pakistan's strong protest against allowing its space to [be used by] a terrorist organisation to carry out activities against Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in contravention of the UN Charter and international law," the FO statement said.

The Swiss government was urged to take action against the perpetrators of the "malicious campaign".



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