Swiss authorities have confirmed that an entry ban has been issued against Marri who was detained at the Zurich airport on Thursday and sent back to the UK where he resides.
“Fedpol [Swiss Federal Police] can issue entry bans when it believes that a person is a threat to the country’s security,” a spokesperson for the foreign affairs ministry told swissinfo.ch on Friday.
The foreign affairs ministry did not reveal the duration of the entry ban, as it wished to protect Marri’s privacy.
Marri is a prominent figure in the Balochistan separatist movement that wishes to gain independence for the province from Pakistan. He is the brother-in-law of Brahumdagh Bugti, the Swiss-based leader of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP). Balochi activists have been very active in organising protests in Switzerland for their cause. A publicity banner on a Geneva bus recently attracted the ire of Pakistan’s government, which summoned the Swiss ambassador over the incident.
Rebel groups in Balochistan – bordering Iran and Afghanistan – have been waging a separatist insurgency in Pakistan’s largest and western-most province since the 1960s, which the army has vowed to crush. They have been demanding greater autonomy, a bigger share of the natural resource revenue from the province, as well as complete independence from Pakistan in some cases.
The province has recently been thrust into the geopolitical spotlight. It attracted global attention when the Chinese announced plans to invest $46 billion (CHF44.9 billion) by 2030 in an economic corridor between Balochistan’s Gwadar port and China’s Xinjiang region. This will involve creating a network of highways, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas. Balochis are against the energy corridor, which they see as another attempt to enrich the government and divert wealth away from the province.
Pakistan believes that India is covertly supporting the Baloch separatist movement including the BRP.