After being caught napping, Transport authorities in London (TfL) have issued instructions today to remove “Free Balochistan” advertisements from more than 100 buses on the ground that they did not comply with guidelines, but Baloch activists contended they were being taken off under pressure from Pakistan.
Bit like our Government putting pressure on TfL to go easy on Uber, even though we had the admission in two court cases that they operate illegally.
The advertisements – first seen on London taxis and billboards – highlighted alleged human rights abuses in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province and evoked a sharp reaction from Islamabad. The buses with the advertisements have been criss-crossing the capital for more than a week.
A spokesman for Transport for London (TfL), which runs the capital’s transport network, told Hindustan Times: “This advert does not comply with our advertising guidelines".
Funny, Uber drivers accept the job offers direct from the customer in contravention of the Private Hire Act 1998, but TfL said nothing about this for the last 5 years.
The spokesman went on to say: “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.”
It's such a pity TfL didn't act this quick with Uber, they could have saved hundreds of rape victims having their lives shattered.
The instructions to remove the advertisements did not surprise Baloch activists.
Funny how quickly TfL acted when an Uber driver was convicted for rape, and a trade publication which carried the headline, was found displayed in many London Taxis. COs were overstepping their remit and were video'd illegally removing the papers from the Taxis!
Bhawal Mengal of World Baloch Organisation (WBO) said TfL is cooperating with Pakistan authorities, and added that “the message has already gone across”.
According to him, the buses carried the large advertisements for more than a week, and it will be another week before they can be taken down from each of the buses. Except for two billboards on TfL property, he said others had not been taken down as of Wednesday.
Similar advertisements on London’s iconic taxis were taken down recently following complaints through diplomatic channels in Islamabad and London. WBO said it had challenged the earlier TfL move to remove the advertisements on taxis.
The signs on buses have these slogans in large letters: “Free Balochistan”, “Save the Baloch People” and “Stop Enforced Disappearances”. Pakistan called the campaign “sinister” and “malicious”, but WBO said it would peacefully speak out against alleged rights violations in Balochistan.