Posts tagged “Pakistan”

Pakistan escalates its internet censorship

Source: Jillian C. York, Al-Jazeera

When websites are blocked in a country with over 20 million internet users, people tend to notice. In Pakistan, where the openness of the internet has been threatened regularly for more than half a decade, new developments are quickly noticed by the country’s online populace.

The latest incident involves the blocking, by at least 13 of the country’s ISPs, of the website of popular American music magazine Rolling Stone. The block comes shortly after the magazine published an article highlighting Pakistan’s “insane military spending”. The article, by Rolling Stone blogger Matt Taibbi, linked to a New York Times article for background information, a fact that some have used to argue that Rolling Stone may have been blocked for other reasons, such as the fact that the site hosts myriad images of scantily-clad women. But as Pakistani free expression group Bytes For All has pointed out, most major pornography websites are not censored in the country.

The ban on Rolling Stone points to a possible new trend in Pakistan: censorship of politically sensitive information. While in the past, content considered blasphemous or offensive to Islam has been the target of censors both online and offline, new evidence surfaced by the OpenNet Initiative suggests increased control of the internet by Pakistan’s various information agencies. According to the report, users of popular ISP Mobilink must add proxy port 3128 in order to browse the internet; the result is the censorship of various keywords, including – strangely – the name of the country’s president, Asif Ali Zardari.

For full original article, see here

Lahore High Court orders ban on Facebook over caricatures

“Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Friday directed the government to block the social networking websites committing desecration of the Holy Prophet (SAW) by any means.

The chief justice also directed the government to take measure in this regard while following the detailed judgment passed on a petition earlier moved by the Islamic Lawyers Forum. The petitioner was aggrieved of the announcement made by ‘Facebook’ last year to hold a competition of drawing caricatures, cartoons of the Holy Prophet (SAW) in a bid to desecrate the Holy Prophet (SAW) and the petitioner pleaded for putting a permanent ban on the website throughout the country.”

From Newsline

Lahore High Court to Consider Permanent Ban on Facebook

“In Pakistan, blanket bans and censorship have been a regular feature. Since 2006, there have been instances where YouTube has been blocked, and more recently, Facebook. While the pretext is national security, the protection of Islam or the interest of the greater good, political motives have almost always been behind these acts.

There were many critics of those lobbying against the ban on Facebook ban in May 2010, the constant criticism being: It’s just a ban on Facebook, get over it. But actually, it wasn’t “just a ban.” It was about how we react to blasphemy, it was about the prevalent tendency to lynch others for what they say without hearing them out properly, without verifying, without giving second chances. It was about political appeasement, the use of religion for political purposes, and it was about the unconstitutional overstepping of authority by state institutions and departments. So it was not just about Facebook.”

From Newsline

Pakistan to cut BB services for foreign missions-sources

“Pakistani authorities have asked mobile telephone operators to stop BlackBerry services to foreign missions in the country amid concern about the security of the communications, industry sources said on Monday.

Two industry officials confirmed that the regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), had asked them to stop all Blackberry services to foreign missions.

Pakistani industry and government officials say that the government had never allowed BlackBerry services to foreign missions and inbound roamers when the services were launched in Pakistan in 2005.

The government also initially banned the more secure BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) services in Pakistan.”

From Reuters

Pakistan Begins Far-Reaching Censorship Crackdown

“On the heels of the assassination of a prominent governor who advocated for outlawing the death sentence as a punishment for blasphemy, the Pakistani government has ordered that all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) immediately begin blocking websites ‘propagating [an] anti-Islam agenda.’ The government has also taken actions that suggest the beginnings of a witch hunt for website operators that could be categorized as ‘anti-Islam.’ The government will additionally monitor SMS traffic for the purpose of identifying and blocking messages with ‘anti-Islam content.’ ”

From Center for Democracy and Technology

Pakistan: The Death of Free Speech

“Salmaan Taseer was a critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which imposes the death penalty on those found guilty of denigrating the Prophet Mohammed. The law goes back to colonial times, but it was General Ziaul Haq, an unelected dictator, who introduced the death penalty. Successive governments have since tried to weaken the law, but given up in the face of opposition from conservative religious leaders.

On 4 January, bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri turned on the politician he was supposed to protect and shot him more than 20 times. Other guards at the scene appear to have waited for the assassin to finish, after which they arrested him. In court appearances since, Qadri has been showered with rose petals. Pakistani religious scholars, described as moderates, have warned people not to mourn Taseer, because doing so would be considered blasphemous. TV commentators are only willing to say that this is a sensitive matter, and that Taseer should have watched his words and not spoken carelessly.”

From Index on Censorship

Pakistani governor opposing blasphemy law killed

“ISLAMABAD — The governor of Pakistan’s wealthiest and most populous province was shot dead in the capital Tuesday by one of his own guards, who later told interrogators that he was angry about the politician’s stance against the country’s blasphemy law, officials said.

The killing of Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer was the most high-profile assassination of a political figure in Pakistan since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007, and it rattled a country already dealing with crises ranging from a potential collapse of the government to a virulent Islamist insurgency.”

From CTV News

Pakistan blocks Facebook in row over Muhammad drawings

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has blocked Facebook as a result of the public outrage towards the Facebook group “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day – May 20”. The public outrage is due to the fact that in the Islamic faith, images of the prophet Mohammad are blasphemous. Approximately 95% of Pakistanis are Muslim, and as the article describes, the country has a population of 170 million, 20 million of which are Internet users.

From The Guardian