Swiss government’s ban on Mehran Baloch

January 1, 2018

By Mohammad Jamil

Last month when Mehran Marri (known as Mehran Baloch) arrived at the Zurich airport with his wife and children, he was stopped by the immigration officers. Swiss government’s foreign ministry officials met him and handed him over a dossier of 8 pages explaining why his immigration into Switzerland will not be allowed. Swiss government sources later confirmed that the “lifetime entry ban” on Mehran Marri was placed on 9th of November. Sources told that Pakistan’s Foreign Office has been in touch with the Swiss authorities regarding Mehran Marri and his brother-in-law Brahamdagh Bugti who lives permanently in Geneva on asylum. Both had announced that they will hold a conference on Balochistan in the Swiss capital on 18th November to work out a strategy in consultation with various Baloch leaders from Europe and elsewhere.

Mehran Marri, a British national, has been holding events regularly in Geneva and Brussels and has been active at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for nearly two decades. His entry ban dealt a blow to his activism. The Swiss immigration authorities detained Mehran Baloch and his family at the airport and subjected him to 3 hours of questioning while informing him (in writing) about the ban imposed on his visit to Switzerland. Mehran Marri told the immigration authorities that there was no proof of his association with any violent group. Mehran Baloch challenged the ban but the Swiss officials persistently refused his entry. He was deported via Emirates Airline flight number EK-086 from Zurich to Dubai on the same day.

One of reasons ascribed to his entry refusal was that as per Swiss Federal Police (Fedpol), he is considered a risk either to public order, internal security, public health or risk to international relations of the country. The other reason was violation of Schengen Borders Code, which applies to any person crossing the external borders of all EU countries, except those of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the internal borders of the Schengen area (a border-free area comprising 22 EU countries, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). But following attacks on France and several other European countries, and with the continuing threat of terrorism, the European Union, at the initiative of France and Germany, amended the Schengen Borders Code to tighten controls at the external borders of the Schengen area.

The new article 8(2) of the Schengen Borders Code, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 18 March 2017, came into effect on 7 April. Previously, EU nationals were only subject to minimum checks and now position has changed. To ensure the security of the Schengen area, all travelers (both EU nationals and third country nationals) will now be systematically checked on entering and exiting the Schengen area. These checks affect land, sea and air borders, and include: verifying the authenticity of the travel document submitted, in order to identify any attempt to use a falsified or stolen document; consulting national, European and international databases to ensure the person is not the subject of an alert.

Customs authorities and border police responsible for border controls are fully mobilized to ensure checks comply with the new provisions of the Schengen Borders Code; and to limit the impact on the flow of people at border crossings. That point besides, Pakistan had provided dossier to Swiss authorities, and the recent active diplomatic approach and pressure generated by Pakistan in response to anti-Pakistan advertisement campaigns in Geneva carried out by Baloch Sub-Nationalists (BNS) has produced positive results. It is however unfortunate that anti-Pakistan advertisements and ‘free Balochistan’ slogans have been displayed on taxies and cabs in the US. After advertisements in Geneva, similar ads were displayed in UK as well, and reportedly, India is funding the advertisement campaign against Pakistan.

India has been exploiting sub-nationalists abroad and in Pakistan through proxies that are involved in the killing of innocent women, children and men. These terrorist groups abduct, kidnap and then kill innocent Balochs/Sindhis to strengthen their case of missing persons and extra-judicial killings. At the behest of India and other hostile countries, these sub-nationalist organizations spew venom against Pakistan by accusing it of HR abuses, killing of sub-nationalist elements in Balochistan/Sindh etc. In collaboration with Indian think tanks, majority of Sindhi and Balochi sub-nationalists groups are carrying out anti-Pakistan campaign abroad.  RAW is exploiting leadership of handful Baloch dissidents to cause harm to Pakistan. Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) supported by Balochistan House in Switzerland was involved in running advertisement campaign in favor of Free Balochistan.