CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

February 25, 2008

Blocked again

Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 2:09 am
Tags: , ,

THE NEWS

FEB 25, 2008

EDITORIAL


Monday, February 25, 2008
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), which has over the past few years acquired growing expertise in blocking ‘unwanted’ websites, has apparently struck again. This time its victim is ‘YouTube’, a giant, US-based website that allows users to post their own videos online. The reason for the blocking of the website is, according to the PTA, objectionable material but it also coincides at a time when some of its Pakistan-based users reportedly put up footage of poll rigging in the recently-held election. Similar clips, filmed using hidden cameras, have been aired in Pakistan by a private television channel. A few months ago, the electronic media regulator PEMRA had closed down channels attacking the actions taken against the judiciary. The previous year, websites run by Baloch or Sindhi nationalist groups and some blogs critical of the government had been blocked by the PTA. If the reason for the blackout is to deny people access to footage of rigging in the election then the move is truly lamentable.

In fact, the gagging is not restricted to the internet. One television channel, which in the past had earned the ire of the government has reportedly off air again after two of its hitherto banned anchors came back on air. In addition to this, renewed threats have been reportedly made to TV channels, which, in the eyes of President Musharraf and his allies, have re-started programmes by ‘banned’ hosts or adopted too critical a tone. It seems that even with the election over and done with, and a damning verdict given by people on repressive tactics used by the authorities in the past, lessons have not been learned. The most important among these lessons is that attempting to cover up reality brings more problems than facing up to what it reveals. Those giving orders seem not to have realized that in an age of rapidly advancing technology, such measures are futile. Other video clips and photographs of similar rigging, often captured on mobile phones, are in circulation. Some footage has been handed over t

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