PAKISTANI government officials demanded yesterday that the British government and London transport bosses remove adverts calling for freedom for Balochistan from the side of London taxis.
The adverts also call for an end to “enforced disappearances” in the south-western province of Pakistan and to “Save the Baloch People.”
The World Baloch Organisation (WBO) launched its advertising campaign yesterday to highlight Pakistan’s “war crimes and human-rights abuses” and to “affirm the right of the Balochi people to govern themselves.”
The group claims that Pakistan continues to oppress the people of Balochistan, burning villages and adding to an “ever growing list of people going missing.”
However, Pakistan says the campaign is “malicious” and deems it an attack on the country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Pakistani High Commissioner in London Syed Ibne Abbas called on the British government to ban the adverts, saying that they “should not be allowed.”
A billboard campaign on London roads went ahead, but Transport for London (TfL) bosses ordered the ads to be removed from taxis.
WBO spokesman Bhawal Mengal deplored the “bullying tactics” of the Pakistani government.
“They are an anti-democratic bid to censor the voice of the Baloch people.
“This is a peaceful advertising campaign. Pakistan’s aggressive reaction is a barefaced attempt to intimidate the UK government and Baloch human-rights defenders,” he said.
Mr Mengal claimed the adverts were not political, comparing them to the rights posters of Amnesty International, which are accepted by TfL.
A TfL mouthpiece said: “This advert does not comply with our advertising guidelines. We have instructed London Taxi Advertising to remove them.”
Mr Mengal said the group would appeal against the decision.