Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said on Wednesday that the Swiss ambassador should be asked to leave because the latter’s country was allowing its soil to be used for terrorism in Pakistan.
The remarks came after Law Minister Zahid Hamid, on behalf of the foreign minister, made a statement in the house about a ‘Free Balochistan’ poster campaign being run by a designated terrorist organisation — the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) — in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mr Rabbani said the Foreign Office should take some serious steps and convey its reservations to the Swiss government in the strongest possible terms because “terrorism was being exported to Pakistan from Swiss soil”.
Law minister says India behind ‘Free Balochistan’ campaign in Geneva
He asked the Foreign Office to expel the Swiss envoy from Pakistan, amidst thumping of desks by members from both sides of the aisle. What was happening in Geneva was a clear violation of the international law and the UN charter, he observed.
Zahid Hamid informed the Senate that Pakistan’s mission in Geneva had observed last week that posters titled “Free Baluchistan” had been displayed in well-frequented areas of Geneva, sponsored by “Baluchistan House”. These included paper and digital posters as well as banners posted on public transport vehicles. The Baluchistan House is said to be an affiliate of the BLA.
“The display of such publicity material is a serious violation of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and of international law and the UN charter. In view of the connections which India maintains with Baloch separatist leaders, and the fact that a large amount of money has been spent, it is obvious that India is behind this campaign,” he said, adding that use of Swiss soil by terrorists and foreign-sponsored secessionists for nefarious designs against Pakistan was totally unacceptable.
The law minister said the Swiss government had been asked to be alert about the presence of BLA terrorists or elements linked with such terrorists in Geneva. He said that in his second communication with the Swiss authorities he had asked them to immediately remove the posters and banners from public places and transport vehicles and prevent such recurrence in future.
“This year’s poster campaign by the Baloch dissident elements is being conducted by the affiliates of a declared terrorist organisation. According to the UN Security Council’s resolutions, states are obligated to not support terrorists or their affiliates, associates or abettors. Allowing this campaign and use of Swiss land is not only an attack on Pakistan’s territorial integrity, but also a violation of the international law, UN charter and Security Council resolutions. As a country that hosts the UN headquarters it is Switzerland’s duty to ensure that nothing against the international law and UN charter is conducted on its territory,” he remarked.
He pointed out that this was not the first time that such a thing had happened in Geneva. In March, a Pakistani Christian Association had placed banners in Geneva against the “violation of Christians’ rights in Pakistan”. An ordinary NGO could not have the means to do this, he said, adding that the matter had been raised with the Swiss authorities who said there was freedom of expression in the country and this was not in violation of the Swiss law.
Mr Hamid said this time as well the Swiss authorities were taking no steps to get the posters removed.
At this, Mr Rabbani said: “They are doing nothing. What are you doing? How can they allow use of their soil for exporting terrorism to Pakistan?”