Photo of Balochistan protesters in London
British security sources are reported to be concerned that Pakistan is preparing to target exiled dissents living in the UK.
The news follows the deaths of Sajid Hussain, a journalist in Sweden covering human rights violations in Balochistan, and Karima Baloch, a campaigner in Canada for an independent Balochistan. Whilst Swedish and Canadian authorities have denied claims of murders in both cases, campaigners are unconvinced.
The news also follows the sentencing of a man from east London who was charged with conspiring with others to murder an exiled Pakistani blogger and activist, Ahmad Waqass Goraya, in the Netherlands.
In response to these concerns, the Government of Pakistan has denied these allegations stating
“As a responsible state, Pakistan respects norms and principles of international law and abides by legal and diplomatic frameworks that govern inter-state interaction including on community matters. There is no question of any threat being made to any national of any state including Pakistan’s own nationals living anywhere on any pretext whatsoever. The unsubstantiated allegations appear to be part of the rather blatant on-going misinformation campaign against Pakistan to malign the country and its state institutions.”
Concern over Pakistan
Despite these denials, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has raised alarm over the continued surveillance of exiled Pakistani journalists. They told the Guardian:
“We are aware of a number of cases that have not been made public. It’s widely understood that these types of threats could only come from Pakistan’s military or intelligence services”.
Lyall Grant, a former UK national security adviser and former UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, told the Guardian:
“If there is illegal pressure, in particular on journalists in the UK, then I would expect the law enforcement agencies and the British government to take notice of that and to make an appropriate legal and/or diplomatic response.”
He further noted that this reflected a wider trend of authoritarian states becoming sufficiently emboldened to start silencing critics.
The Guardian notes that since Imran Khan came to power in Pakistan in 2018, with the backing of the military, civil rights groups there have documented the erosion of press freedom with rising violent attacks on journalists.
Read more here.