Balochistan: Despite Pakistan’s hue and cry over recent ‘Free Balochistan’ advertisements in London, the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has shot down suggestions of any action against the campaign.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested several ad campaigns seen across public buses and taxis in London demanding independence for Balochistan – a region allegedly suppressed and ignored for development. ASA though has acknowledged that the advertisement campaigns may be politically sensitive but do not breach UK’s code for non-broadcasting advertisements. “I have informed the complainant that we will not pursue the matter because, based on the facts available to us, there doesn’t seem to be a breach of the UK Code of Non-Broadcasting Advertising (CAP Code),” read a letter from ASA’s Complaint Executive.
The ASA council clarified that “the advertiser had a right to express their views, as long as they were in line with the rules in the Advertising Code.”The Council considered that the tagline ‘#Balochistan”‘ (and) ‘FreeBalochistan’ was an invitation to find out more about a particular political cause; and the ad itself did not make any specific claim that threatened the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Pakistan,” the letter further read.
The advertisement blitzkrieg in the UK has been started by World Baloch Organisation which accuses Pakistan government of ignoring the needs and aspirations of Balochistan and its people. In recent weeks, public taxis and buses have been sighted with the advertisements in a bid to draw world’s attention to the plight of Baloch people. Pakistan – almost each time – has summoned British High Commissioner in Islamabad, Thomas Drew, to register protest but has been unable to halt the campaign. Drew has expressed his inability to interfere in the matter but has said that the UK considers Balochistan as an integral part of Pakistan.
The World Baloch Organisation though is not limiting their campaign to just the UK and had previously also splashed the ad across a public bus in Geneva. Reports suggest that it may extend the campaign to other European countries as well.