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Pakistan: PTA Blocks President's ‘Shut-Up’ Video

On Sunday evening [7th February 2010] YouTube.com started facing intermittent reports of irregular inaccessibility across various ISP's in Pakistan. It initially started off with a simple white page displaying the word “This Site is Restricted” throughout the YouTube domain which were reported widely on Herdict Web, roughly displaying that the site-wide inaccessibility lasted for about an hour but after that everything seemed to have been recovered back to normal.

Huma Imtiaz wrote:

About 90 minutes ago, YouTube suddenly got blocked in Karachi – with the message “This site is restricted” popping up instead. PTCL expressed ignorance about the ban, whereas representatives of various ISPs’ helplines said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had banned YouTube. At around 9:30 PM PST, YouTube came back, but now one cannot access the video of Zardari saying shut up to a crowd that surfaced recently on the website. Since its a Sunday, PTA representatives are unavailable.

Screen Capture From YouTube Video

Screen Capture From YouTube Video

Instead it was then reported that the Internet governing body Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which monitors internet access from Pakistan has placed an URL-specific ban on one particular video in which the President of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is seen to deliver a very forceful and curt “Shut-up” to some participant at the rally he was addressing a rally barely a few weeks back.

It must be noted that Mr. Zardari actually says in Urdu:

“What has happened to this democracy ……. Shut Up”

Many Pakistanis would find this as a hilarious coincidence coming from a infamous corrupt leader who has a quite a large number of corruption cases outstanding against him. In 2007, his wife Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after which Mr. Zardari successfully hijacked her party and nudged his way into the power corridors in Pakistan and land up in the Presidency. All this was only possible as he negotiated a compromise with the then President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf by fabricating an illegal constitutional order [NRO – National Reconciliatory Ordinance] which pardoned him of all his corruption cases.

Here is the video uploaded by YouTube user c1ickme3:

Tassaduq Bashir at Techreaders comments:

Having said that I don’t understand what Government is thinking by banning the video in Pakistan. Literally anyone with small Internet knowledge can access those easily. Also the ban is in Pakistan and Pakistan isn’t the whole world, Global users still have the access to the video.

youtube blocked in PakistanSources analyzing this recent censorship attempts suggest that the PTA engineers were yet again testing & fine tuning the URL-block list as they slowly nudged these videos inaccessible to Pakistani, this risky trial and error has been the hallmark of the very same PTA engineers who in February 2008 masterminded [accidentally] to knock out the entire youtube.com network as then PTA tried to block a certain election vote rigging video ending up to misconfiguring the DNS records of Youtube resulting an serious outage world wide for a good few hours before youtube scrambled to fix the errors.

Farhan at Guppu writes:

I got a friendly message to Mr. President Asif Ali Zardari and that is; there’s nothing bad if you got angry on someone from audience who might have provoked you on some sensitive personal issue but what you did wrong is; tried to censor the words of your own! If you are so much embarassed about that video, why did you say such thing at first place, and now that you had said that already, what stimulated you to block that?

Political analysts believe this recent run of censorship is more a knee-jerk reaction by the present rulers of the country as they are facing pressure from a number of areas, more specifically the previously side-lined corruption cases that they had in 2008 nudged away by some illegal constitutional reforms, to get themselves elected. These cases have been reopened for a detailed investigation by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which was done away with the various constitutional reforms bringing at stake their appointment to these high-level offices.

The post was co-authored by Farhan Janjua.

1 comment

  • David Hoffman

    Very interesting post. Do you know of other attempts to censor the internet in Pakistan by the government?

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