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Top Baloch nationalist leader ‘detained’ in Switzerland

Baloch nationalist Mehran Marri, also known as Mehran Baloch, tweeted that he had been detained along with his wife and children at Zurich airport on the request of the Pakistan government.

world Updated: Nov 17, 2017 00:03 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mehran Baloch,Baloch nationalist Mehran Marri,Switzerland
Baloch nationalist leader Mehran Marri seen with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan in a photo posted on his Twitter account.(Twitter)

Top Baloch nationalist leader Mehran Marri, who has been living in self-exile outside Pakistan, was on Thursday detained at Zurich airport in Switzerland and informed by officials that there is a “lifetime ban” on his entry into the country.

Marri tweeted that he had been detained along with his wife and four children soon after he flew into Zurich. He said in the tweet that he felt he was “under arrest by Swiss authorities on the request of the Pakistan Govt”.

Pakistan’s Geo News channel reported, citing its sources, that the ban on Marri’s entry into Switzerland was placed at the request of the Pakistan government. The report said Pakistan had handed over a dossier to Switzerland detailing Marri’s alleged links with militant groups in Balochistan.

There was no official word from the Swiss or Pakistani authorities on the development.

A number of top Baloch leaders fled Pakistan when former dictator Pervez Musharraf launched a military operation against nationalists and insurgents in Balochistan in 2006. Akbar Bugti, one of the most senior Baloch nationalists, was killed during the operation.

In recent months, Pakistan has stepped up protests through diplomatic channels to European governments after Baloch dissidents and activists launched campaigns highlighting rights abuses in several European cities, including Geneva and London.

Baloch groups put up billboards with slogans such as “Free Balochistan” in these cities. Pakistan registered a strong protest after “Free Balochistan” banners appeared on buses and taxis in London over the past few weeks.

Brahamdagh Bugti, the son of slain Baloch leader Akbar Bugti, tweeted that he was “really shocked” to learn that Marri had been stopped at Zurich airport and barred from entering Switzerland. Bugti is also the brother-in-law of Marri.

There were reports that Marri and Bugti had planned to hold a conference on Balochistan in Switzerland on November 18 with the aim of uniting top Baloch nationalists and forging a joint strategy for their movement.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 00:02 IST