LONDON: The Transport for London (TfL) has ordered the removal of offensive advertisements from London cabs immediately which were against the territorial integrity of Pakistan.
Pakistan High Commission had taken up the issue with the TfL after a few iconic cabs were spotted carrying ‘Free Balochistan’ slogans in parts of Zone 1 & 2 in Central London. High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas met TfL officials and lodged protest, calling on TfL officials to act without any delay.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned British High Commissioner Thomas Drew on Friday to convey the concerns over the slogans seen on some cabs in London, attacking Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
According to the Foreign Office, the High Commissioner was told that Pakistan objected to the propaganda.
The issue was raised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by the Pakistan High Commissioner in London as well.
The campaign is being run by a group calling itself World Baloch Organisation (WBO). A Baloch source said that the London campaign is a “copycat” of a similar campaign run in Geneva last month by an NGO called ‘Baluchistan House’ which ran a highly visible and expensive campaign across the transport networks of the city.
The Baloch source shared that campaign on London cabs had nothing to do with the Geneva campaign and a different organisation was behind it.
Pakistan High Commission told this scribe late on Friday that on taking up the matter of pernicious anti-Pakistan campaign on London cabs by High Commissioner Syed Ibne Abbas, the Transport for London (TfL) has ordered the removal of offensive advertisements from London cabs immediately.
“The TfL confirmed that it has initiated an inquiry into the matter. As soon as the vicious campaign came to the notice of the High Commission, the matter was taken up with the British authorities, including the TfL. The TfL after taking the suitable action of removal of the advertisements, has assured of the disciplinary action against the perpetrators of this malicious campaign,” said the spokesman.
A spokesman of TfL said that it had received a complaint from Pakistani government and that an inquiry has been initiated.
It’s understood that Pakistani authorities told the TfL authority that its own rules on advertisement were violated.
The TfL rules state that its licensed people carriers cannot be used for political purposes and their license was only for commercial and business purposes.
The TfL receives adverts from various commercial agencies and in this instance a Baloch exiled leader paid to the advertising agency to book the political campaign.
The spokesman told The News that the TfL has appointed an enforcement officer who will make sure that the offensive slogans are removed and that the drivers not obliging the rules will be suspended from work.
The News understands that over half a dozen black cabs were booked by the organiser of the campaign as well as three vans carrying slogans in favour of Baloch women.
This scribe spotted two vans near Trafalgar Square on Friday showing images of two women and four children and accusing that they were kidnapped on 30 October in Balochistan. The vans carried a hashtgaq calling for awareness through Twitter.__The News