Baloch ads cleared in U.K.

Regulator says the campaign has not breached the code

Updated - December 01, 2017 12:26 am IST

Published - November 30, 2017 09:16 pm IST - London

#FreeBalochistan campaigners have hailed the decision by Britain’s advertising regulator to allow a billboard campaign by the organisation to remain in place, despite the decision by Transport for London earlier this month to remove advertising on buses and taxis.

In a letter to the World Baloch Organisation, which is running the campaign in London, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) confirmed that it would not pursue the matter any further as there did not appear to be a breach of the code. The advertiser had a “right to express their views”, despite the issue of Baloch independence being a “politically sensitive” issue. The ASA’s role was to assess what appeared within the ads, rather than making a “broader judgment about the intent of the ad, or the political cause, being advertised”.

‘No threat to Pakistan’

“[The] Council considered that the tagline ‘#FreeBalochistan’ was an invitation to find out more about a particular political campaign itself, and the ad itself did not make any specific claim that threatened the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Pakistan... the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to members of the public in general,” wrote the ASA.

The High Commission of Pakistan and a member of the public had referred the advert to the ASA, arguing the slogan Free Balochistan was “irresponsible and offensive to the Pakistani diaspora” and an attack on “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan”, the ASA said.

“Justice has prevailed,” said Bhawal Mengal, the WBO’s London spokesperson. “The ASA has affirmed that our campaign is within the U.K.’s rules and regulations. Moreover it has proved that Pakistan’s narrative to malign our campaign is baseless and deceitful.”

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