Friday, February 22, 2008

YouTube Ban in Pakistan!

In the last few hours there has been a flurry of emails flying around about the ban on YouTube in Pakistan. Tried to visit the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority site at, however the site appears down. Though I did manage to obtain the following circular by way of my colleague, and partner-in-crime, iFaqeer.

Here it clearly stipulates the block of a specific YouTube URL, as it contains "offensive" material, .Without a doubt in mind the content is offensive, it is a tasteless video posted by some no good for nothing twerp, who goes by the name conterminatiediehard. However, it doesn't justify a cart-Blanche ban on the entire YouTube site. Let me remind you this isn't the first time PTA has acted hastily.

Users subscribing to the Internet through PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation Limited), a semi-Government Corporation, have been getting the following message today if they tried to access YouTube:

> ------------------------------------------------------
> Dear Internet Users
> Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
> ( directed all ISPs of the country
> to block access
> to web site for containing
> blasphemous
> web content/movies.
> The site would remain blocked till further orders
> from
> PTA. Meanwhile, Internet users can write to
> to remove the objectionable web
> content/movies because this removal would enable
> the authorities to order un-blocking of this web
> site.
> Best Regards
> Manager
> Technical Assistance Center
> Micronet Broadband Pvt. Ltd.
> Islamabad
> --------------------------------------------------

Other Blogs that are reporting:
Zahir Kidvai's blog
Pakistan Latest
Rohan Pinto Blog
Adnan's Crazy Blog World
Just Like That
Quita's Weblog

Situation Update - Saturday, Feb 23rd, 1:32 am (US Pacific)

Just in, YouTube is accessible in Karachi, however in the Islamabad, and Peshawar area's it is blocked. It may very well be blocked specifically on the networks that operate through PTCL! Stay tuned for more updates, right here on The Siliconstani! - AR

Traditional Media Reports - Saturday, Feb 23rd, 2:25 am (US Pacific)

Daily Times
Sify News

From the Doorstep kutchari:

Feb 23, 2:28 am: The general opinion in the air is that the YouTube ban was prompted in light of the large number videos pertaining to the recent elections showing up on the site. Presumably an attempt to cover up any election rigging that may become evident.

Feb 23, 10:15 am: [Courtesy Beena Sarwar] The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) "directed all the Internet service providers of the country to block access to the video-sharing website `Youtube' for containing blasphemous content. The order, issued by the director enforcement agency, says that the ratio of `non-Islamic objectionable video' has increased on the website. Following the order, all local ISPs have blocked the website from their servers," according to a news report. Details at

However, the real reason may have been the postings of vote rigging. Someone sent links that circumvented YouTube:

http://208.65. 153.251
http://208.65. 153.253
http://208.65. 153.238

Another post sent out the following links: com/watch? v=j444heT4o14 com/watch? v=6TPUHHFky38

(Listen to the part where the undercover woman says about ID card numbers, "ID card number koyi bhi daal dein, kis nay check kerna hai?", and the voting officer says, "Jo kerta hai ker lay check! Hehe!")

[End Beena's report]

Whatever the reason, there is no excuse, whatsoever, to ban an entire site, it proves nothing other than an utter disrespect for the the will of the nation and the peoples freedom of expression. This Government has made a sham of things - destroying institution after institution. Bugger the lofty rhetoric about how the present regime has brought about "grassroots democracy", "freed the media", "transformed the economy" - the next person who attempts to support "them" with such reason, seriously, s(he) will get a tight slap from me. It's nothing but bogus rhetoric, sugar quoted in a facade of "intellectualism", as the saying goes 'even the devil can quote scripture, doesn't mean (s)he is a saint', does it?. Who gives a dam whether the recent elections fair, free, and peaceful - it is a well known fact tat the Q's and General's loyalists attempted to skew the polls in there favor - though, to their dismay, despite rigging, the polls express the publics disdain for them. Now it's time for the General to accept defeat and step aside...

Sunday, February 24th:

YouTube suffered a two-hour long, system-wide outage on Sunday that the company said was triggered by a network based in Pakistan.

"For about two hours, traffic to YouTube was routed according to erroneous Internet Protocols," said YouTube spokesperson Ricardo Reyes in a statement "Many users around the world could not access our site. We have determined that the source of these events was a network in Pakistan. We are investigating and working with others in the Internet community to prevent this from happening again."

Google, the owner of YouTube, blamed the outage on "erroneous internet protocols", sourced in Pakistan.

Monday, February 25:

"The telecom company that carries most of Pakistan's traffic, PCCW, has found it necessary to shut Pakistan off from the Internet while they filter out the malicious routes that a Pakistani ISP, PieNet, announced earlier today. Evidently PieNet took this step to enforce a decree from the Pakistani government that ISP's must block access to YouTube because it was a source of blasphemous content. YouTube has announced more granular routes so that at least in the US they supercede the routes announced by PieNet. The rest of the world is still struggling."

Tuesday, February 26th:

Government lift's ban on YouTube. Google, the owner of YouTube confirms service has been resorted in the country,

Better late, than never, though I am afraid to wonder what damage has this incident done to to investor confidence. Not good I would say. Who in their right mind would host their web business through Pakistani IP addresses, not me, and I, or at least I would hope to am a staunchly patriotic Pakistani. However, don't get me wrong, I will continue use Pakistan resources to develop my business, but will not allow my web resources to go through Pakistani controlled IP space.

Tuesday, February 26th, 5:21 pm (US Pacific):

The Ex-pat community in the Silicon Valley is enraged. Strongly condemning the Government of Pakistan, not to mention many have called for a law suite against the GoP. See the following thread from the SV-PAK discussion group (names and emails suppressed):

SV-PAK wrote:
I am with u dude, I am all for suing the GOP and Pak Telecom and the fanatic Mullahs and while we are at it why not the Achmed dinijad or whatever the barbarian from Iran is called.
Go for it. - Imran Q.

SV-PAK wrote:
This is way too much. I'd urge Google to sue GoP and Pakistan Telecom
big time.

It is a double outrage: (a) The image of the self-destructing 'mawzlem'
street full of howling fanatics was used to (b) prevent people from
seeing videos depicting some dark deeds of Musharraf's government.

I'd say the EU should throw all its weight (and Euros) behind Holland
and Denmark in the name of free speech. After all, Iran has retaliated
with its own cartoons and Holocaust conference, so what more is there
to do in terms of tit for tat?

"IslamiyoN" ke moonh ko xoon lag chuka hai. Since they are able to
successfully intimidate dissenters and minorities in countries
including Pakistan, they now think their reach is global. - Usman Q.

Copyright C. Abdulrahman Rafiq
Abdulrahman Rafiq has Copyright s to Siliconstani, Doorstep Kutchari
A special thanks iFaqeer and Moazzam Chaudry "MacGuj" for providing feedback.
All Rights Reserved 2008


iFaqeer said...

Really, all that matters in this regard is investor confidence? You don't care that we've now officially and publicly established that the Internet is censored in Pakistan and that's acceptable?

Abdulrahman Rafiq said...

Investor confidence, i.e. local and foreign is paramount. However, internet censorship is a concern investors would have. Now, who in there right minds would host, let alone use Pakistan controlled IP addresses for their Web business. I know as a Pakistani, and a patriotic one, at least I would hope so, I wouldn't dare host site in Pakistan or on Pakistani controlled IP addresses. When it comes to business, I have a capitalistic attitude.

Farhana Sheikh said...

The Internet is censored in China too - but does that stop people from investing in China? Just a question for thought...

iFaqeer said...

Exactly! Farhana beat me to saying that--and said it well. Enterpreneurship (it ain't pure capitalism) will NOT get you a free society. In fact, business working purely out of a profit motive will work closely with government to get what is best for it. And what results is called, in the most technical meaning of the term, "fascism".