Pakistan’s Delegation meets with UK MPs to advocate against WBO’s ongoing #FreeBalochistan Campaign

In the past days, a delegation from Pakistan has engaged in talks with Members of the UK Parliament with a delegation of 12 representing the provincial government, among whom 2 Baloch individuals who have never spoken out for human rights in the region. The delegation, with no legitimacy to represent the Baloch people and their struggle for peace and freedom, has stated that “British Land shall not be used against Pakistan”, according to reports on the media, a clear reference to the World Baloch Organisation’s #FreeBalochistan campaign in London. Pakistan’s actions reveal how frightened the government is that the world discovers the truth about the situation in Balochistan.

 

One of the Baloch individuals who took part in the delegation is Mr Asim Gailu Kurd, well-known in Pakistan for accusations related to drugs and arms trafficking – by no means a representative of the peaceful and lawful struggle of the Baloch people for their human rights.  The other one is Mr Abdul Malik Baloch, who was Chief Minister of Balochistan from 2013 to 2015. At the end of his mandate, the Pakistani media itself pointed to his failure to address the core issues of the region – including the frequent killings and disappearances and the dialogue with leaders of the Baloch nationalist movement. His election to the post of Chief Minister in 2013 happened with 4,500 votes from a population of almost half a million, since the Baloch population largely boycotted the votes as a protest against Islamabad’s institutions.

 

Another good example of the lack of political representation of the secular and progressive Baloch people is that the Deputy speaker of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, nominated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, was elected with only 544 votes out of 121,000. Later, no more than 26 were certified by local bodies. Apart from Islamabad’s rule being imposed on regional institutions, Balochistan accounts for only 17 of a total of 342 parliamentary seats in the National Assembly of Pakistan, giving the Baloch limited legislative influence in the national sphere.

 

The #FreeBalochistan is a human rights awareness campaign focusing on the dire situation of the Baloch people and urging for the end of killings, torture and enforced disappearances by the Pakistani military in Balochistan. The campaign is based on adverts placed around the city of London, attracting the interest of pedestrians and drivers to this long-forgotten issue that requires urgent attention from the international community. WBO has faced strong opposition from the government of Pakistan, which ruled the campaign “malicious”, “anti-Pakistan” and “an attack to the territorial integrity of Pakistan”.

 

As a result of pressure from Pakistani authorities, Transport for London has ordered the removal of all adverts of the #FreeBalochistan campaign which had been displayed on taxis in London. Claiming that WBO’s adverts are not in accordance with the company’s advertising policy, TfL has made the discriminatory and unfair decision to ban the adverts. However, the campaign is still ongoing and WBO has released a new video of the mobile awareness campaign run across the city of London as part of the #FreeBalochistan campaign.

 

The video can be found here. The campaign highlighted human rights abuses in Balochistan and the worsening of the situation due to the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), displaying billboards in emblematic locations to the Baloch struggle, such as the Pakistani and Chinese embassies in London.

 

WBO is dedicated to making the voices of the Baloch heard around the world, urging the international community to stand up against the violence suffered by the people of Balochistan, an issue largely marginalised in the media but well reported by prominent organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. WBO will continue to speak out for human rights and freedom of expression regardless of the constant attempts by the Pakistani government to suppress the voices of those who suffer in Balochistan.