Prior to the commencement of this years United Nations Human Rights Council’s session, a series of Baloch Separatist posters appeared in Geneva. According to Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, eight posters and one digital poster had been on display since 3rd September 2017. It was also noted that a car remained parked near the digital poster and seemed to be guarding it. Adding that it is quite conceivable that local city authorities received certain revenue fee for display of these posters.
This campaign was spearheaded by the Baluchistan House group, which is affiliated with the Baluchistan Liberation Front— a designated terrorist organization.
It is an open secret that for the past several years’ hostile powers have tried to foment unrest in the province by aligning with a small group of locals.
Pakistan has on several occasions presented irrefutable evidence on the Indian involvement in funding and supporting such groups in efforts to destabilize the CPEC initiative. The confessions by the Indian Spy –Kulbhushan Jadhav is just one example.
Pakistan has also recently decided to formally approach the Interpol to act against the anti-state elements.
Recently a protest was led by MPA Mir Tariq Hussain Massouri Bugti who claimed that “An army of paid volunteers is running the campaign to malign the country at a time when the 36th session of the UNHRC is underway. ’It has also been revealed that India has allocated funds of Rs7 billion and the Indian mission in Geneva is controlling anti-Pakistan activities.”
In the wake of these realities, Pakistan has decided to further step up security operations against RAW and its proxies. At the same time, expand the scope of Baluchistan Peace Program- aimed at reintegrating reconcilable elements from such groups.
The program has in the past indicated prominent successes and several Baloch insurgents renounced violence. The situation in Baluchistan is stated as “fast-improving security situation”.
The Baloch Government needs to ensure that it actively reaches out to reconcilable elements and ensures that the socio-economic development of the province is carried out diligently so the security gains are preserved.
Furthermore, in response to this incident, the Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Farrukh Amil reached out to his Swiss counterpart, stating in a letter that ‘any notion of ‘Free Balochistan’ is a flagrant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan. The fact that terrorists or elements linked with terrorists operate openly for their propaganda campaigns in the peaceful and serene city of Geneva, is a matter of grave concern.” The ambassador also urged the Swiss authorities to proceed against accomplices of the BLA.
Later in the month of September 2017, the Swiss ambassador was also summoned at the FO in Islamabad to address Pakistani concerns regarding Swiss territory being used by terrorist organizations.
Following the summon, The Swiss foreign ministry spokesperson stated “In principle, the hanging of public posters is protected by the constitutional right to freedom of expression, Swiss law permits the authorities to intervene in such cases only in the event of an illegal act or when a complaint has been lodged.”
The Swiss authorities at their end have presented a seemingly justified stance.
Despite that, it is a required to give precedence to norms of international relations. Offering space to a designated terrorist organization that aspires to challenge another nation’s territorial integrity falls under a contemporary grey area where nation states must redefine their stances according to the nature of the non-state actors in question.
Some segments, in order to justify the Swiss Stance, have compared this instance with Pakistan’s position on groups such as JuD. It is however, imperative to keep in view that these groups are primarily against Indian Occupation in Kashmir. They do not challenge any other nation’s territorial integrity. Secondly, Pakistan has moved against elements which it considers to be involved in armed activities and only offers moral support to groups that are challenging an illegitimate occupation and human right abuses. Pakistan on its part, also needs to expedite efforts in raising global awareness on Indian activities in the region and work towards getting such anti-state proxies designated as terror groups by the UN.