LONDON: Transport authorities in London issued instructions on Wednesday to remove “Free Balochistan” advertisements from more than 100 buses on the ground that they did not comply with guidelines.
Earlier, the similar advertisements appeared on London taxis and billboards, which were later taken down by the authorities following complaints through diplomatic channels in Islamabad and London.
The buses with the advertisements have been crisscrossing the capital for more than a week.
A spokesman for Transport for London (TfL), which runs the capital’s transport network said, “This advert does not comply with our advertising guidelines. It was accepted in error by our advertising partner and was not referred to us for our consideration. We have instructed that all such adverts must be removed immediately.”
On Nov 3, the Pakistani High Commission had taken up the issue with Transport for London (TfL) after a few iconic cabs were spotted carrying ‘Free Balochistan’ slogans in parts of Zone 1 & 2 in Central London, while Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua had summoned British High Commissioner Thomas Drew at the Foreign Office to convey Islamabad’s concern over the slogans seen on some cabs in London.
Drew was told that the propaganda against Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty would not be tolerated. The issue was raised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to England Syed Ibne Abbas as well.
The London campaign was similar to the one conducted in Geneva last month by an outfit called ‘Baluchistan House’ which ran an expensive campaign across the transport networks of the city.
Transport for London had ordered the removal of the offensive ads from London cabs immediately after the matter was brought to their notice.
‘UK FULLY RESPECTS SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF PAKISTAN’
The United Kingdom fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan, of which Balochistan is and will continue to be an integral part, said British High Commissioner Thomas Drew responding to concerns about advertisements about Balochistan in London.
According to a message from the UK High Commission, he said, “I understand the strength of feeling about adverts in London. The British government does not and cannot control advertising in the UK.”
But, he added, “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.”