Category Archives: Websites

A small mention on TechCrunch during Twitter Blocking

TechCrunch author Ingrid Lunden while covering the Twitter Censorship in Pakistan writes Sure, Draw Some thing, Just not The Prophet [pbuh] – at least one Pakistani blogger/activist (and, yes, dentist) Awab Alvi has raised the point that there may be no direct blasphemy accusation involved today at all… linking to portions of the post Twitter Blocked in Pakistan – Permanently or Weekend Testing?

Twitter Blocked in Pakistan – Permanently or Weekend Testing?

Twitter Blocked in PakistanAs of 1:00pm Sunday Twitter.com has become inaccessible to all users in Pakistan. Practically all ISP’s have reports of users complaining of twitter.com being inaccessible. Ever since the reports emerged we have asked affected users to help test the site from their ISP connections and within minutes we had hundreds of reports The traceroute shows a very interesting fact, the block is at the DNS level, the url is not resolving right from the get go

traceroute twitter.com
traceroute: unknown host twitter.com

When you do a simple traceroute for yahoo.com

traceroute yahoo.com
traceroute: Warning: yahoo.com has multiple addresses; using 72.30.38.140
traceroute to yahoo.com (72.30.38.140), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
1 192.168.0.10 (192.168.0.10) 2260.190 ms 0.864 ms 0.705 ms
2 203.99.169.18 (203.99.169.18) 24.729 ms 24.442 ms 21.330 ms
3 10.0.2.6 (10.0.2.6) 43.865 ms 43.745 ms 43.108 ms
4 203.99.170.234 (203.99.170.234) 46.673 ms 46.131 ms 45.280 ms
5 rwp44.pie.net.pk (221.120.253.1) 45.757 ms 46.353 ms 43.939 ms
6 rwp44.pie.net.pk (221.120.254.38) 43.749 ms 44.675 ms 44.910 ms
7 static-khi-ni01-swa.pie.net.pk (202.125.128.162) 44.823 ms 44.716 ms 45.713 ms
8 khi77.ptcl.net.pk (202.125.129.110) 181.540 ms 179.108 ms 180.835 ms
9 ge-1-3-0.pat1.ams.yahoo.com (195.69.145.110) 175.123 ms 176.314 ms 176.563 ms

Shows that the pings head to PIE [Pakistan Internet Exchange] in Rawalpindi then to the Karachi PIE server before heading out to Yahoo. Twitter does not even get beyond the first hop

My gutt feeling is that PTA is just testing their URL Filtering system, we had reports of them testing some image servers on facebook last week, and it disappeared by the evening. PTA choose Sunday to avoid any legal backlash exploiting the courts day off. I also dont buy into the argument of Express News that the access to Twitter was blocked due to an ongoing “competition” of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) caricatures. As no one knew about this “in Pakistan” and it was an unknown issue on twitter to target this portal on Sunday afternoon, there seems to be no evidence to come to that conclusion and feel Tribune should be careful in making such sweeping statements on such a sensitive issue can spark an outlash. I definitely believe they are testing their system. Though the civil society has to its credit a stay order on the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority preventing them from blocking websites obtained on 19th April 2012 which can be used against them.

Once they get through these testing days I am sure it can be later used as and when needed. Though the argument presented by PTA is that it needs this technology to crack down on Terrorism related issue, but one may never know when it can be used for political censorship

Op-Ed: Slacktivsim, The birth of the drawing room politician

Facebook activism is a new buzzword making its way into the public sphere and discourse in Pakistan. As excited as I am by its power, I am worried at the exponential increase in the number of people giving all kinds of opinions. As a result, I find that it is increasingly becoming easy to lose track of genuine content in an ever-expanding web of social gossip chatter. The positive side in this is that more people are becoming independent digital journalists, some of them displaying as much influence as a media house.

The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. Social media has reinvented activism. With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the once powerless to collaborate and coordinate in order to give voice to their concerns.
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Why Quit Facebook

Guest Post by Muhammad Adil Mulki and assisted by Khurram Ali Shafique

1) How Important is Love for Prophet Muhammad – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم (S.A.W)

Our faith can not be complete till such time that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is dearer to us than our own selves, our parents, our forefathers, our children and all our businesses and possessions. (Please refer to the Appendix at the end of this document if further elaboration of this statement is required.)

2) What has facebook done which is so unacceptable?

In this world there are people having all kinds of views / opinions and beliefs. Freedom of Expression of opinions is a right that should be enjoyed by all. Freedom of Expression however does not equate to Freedom to Insult. Facebook has crossed this line as it gave freedom to insult Islam and Muslims. Ironically, Facebook claims to have a set of “regulations” which should have stopped the “Everybody Draw …” page. However, Facebook, showing no respect towards Islam and Muslims refrained from banning the page. They even had the audacity to express disappointment upon being banned in Pakistan!

(Please read Section 6 for a more detailed list of Facebook’s offensive actions.)
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This post was submitted by Muhammad Adil Mulki & Khurram Ali Shafique .

Death of Collective Wisdom

Is there a competition going on in Pakistan between institution to earn shame and notoriety for their nation?” my colleague asked me casually while we were having some drinks and watching a news television. “We are on that path for last 40years”, I answered stubbornly. Can there anything such shameful to force you behave that stubborn over your national pride? There is, hold your breath, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties’, in a press release issued by its Secretary General, Mr Shamsul Islam Naz, has “officially’ appreciated the blocking of the Facebook Website.

This was followed by the Lahore High Court orders of a blanket ban on entire social media website depriving 2.5 million Pakistani’s an access to major internet services. Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied.
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This post was submitted by Ahmed Nadeem Gehla.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Protest Against Nationwide Government Ban of Facebook

For Immediate Release

Defenders of Internet Freedom Protest Against Nationwide Government Ban of Facebook

On Wednesday 19th May 2010, the Lahore High Court ordered the banning of Facebook across Pakistan. Facebook is the world’s most popular social media network and is used by over 400 million globally. In Pakistan, over 2 million people use Facebook to stay in touch with their friends and family, conduct business, manage events, and share photos, news, and other content. A few days ago, a page called “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” was created on Facebook asking users to submit drawings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on 20th May 2010. This page, interpreted as blasphemous, has triggered a nationwide ban on the entire Facebook domain.

While we recognize that sites on the Internet are used to spew hatred and incite violence, we steadfastly believe that governments have no right to control access to information. We believe that every citizen has an inalienable right to freely access information and by censoring Facebook, the Government of Pakistan has taken away that right. This action will have a very negative impact on Pakistan, especially considering that countless small businesses, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, art galleries, magazines, and media outlets use Facebook to conduct day-to-day business and share information with their stakeholders.

In 2006, the Supreme Court of Pakistan banned the entire blogspot.com domain for over 18 months over a similar incident where only one blog carried blasphemous cartoons. Thousands of Pakistani bloggers were deprived of the freedom to express themselves and interact with others. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority now has the ability to block specific pages on the Internet and could have banned just the single blasphemous page. As members of civil society and professionals who depend on social media networks for our daily communications, we demand the immediate restoration of Facebook and an end to Internet censorship by the Government of Pakistan.

We would like to invite you to a press conference to discuss the worrying trend of Internet censorship and the resulting impact on civil liberties and the free and unfettered exchange of ideas and information.

Date: 20th May 2010
Time: 5:00 pm
Venue: Karachi Press Club

PS attempts are being made to live stream the event from the Press Club, follow this space for updates, if we are able to pull this off

Lahore High Court orders Facebook blocked till the 31st of May

Following hot in the footsteps of the controversial Draw Mohammed Day, Lahore High Court has issued orders to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block facebook up till the 31st of May on an petition lodged by Islamic Lawyers Movement on Tuesday

Daily Times: Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority secretary to reply until Wednesday (today), on a petition seeking a ban on Facebook, which is holding a competition of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic Lawyers Movement filed the petition through Chaudhry Zulfiqar advocate, who stated that a competition was announced on Facebook on April 20 which would continue until May 20, asking all the members of the website to create their caricatures to participate in the competition

Tribune reports that PTA urged the court to only ban those particular pages showing the offensive drawings. It is said PTA still awaits the orders when they will be handed down from the Ministry of IT, after which a nationwide ban will go into effect on facebook.com
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Azm-e-Ali Shan – The Great Resolve

To be a part of this initiative visit and register your AZM: www.azmealishan.com or send an SMS “azm |space| name to 5454” – NOW

Centered around the idea of the Lahore resolution 70 years ago, a group of independent activists decided to help mobilize citizens to celebrate the unity and spirit of patriotism and to drive them towards a more progressive Pakistan, this unique initiative aims to revive the same spirit of nationhood and community that lay at the heart of the vision of Pakistan. Drawing on the idea of the ‘azm’ made by our elders and leaders 70 years ago, the Azme Alishan website www.azmealishan.com invites citizens to make their ‘azm’ to be part of a brighter and more prosperous Pakistan. Azm-e-Ali Shan, an urdu term means “The Great Resolve

Each user who registers and makes an ‘azm’ claims his/her pixel and declares himself/herself as a ‘Nishan-e-Azm’. Each pixel thus represents a resolve to contribute to bringing Pakistan back to its rightful glory. As more and more ‘azms’ are made and more and more pixels filled in, a colorful picture of Minar-e-Pakistan emerges. People can also take part in contributing pixels via SMS. Sending an SMS with azmname to 5454 also unveils a pixel in their name.
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PTA blocks website : Make Pakistan Better

In an email sent just now by the webmaster of Make Pakistan Better, I was shocked to read that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Director General (Enforcement) Yawer Yasin has instructed all its Zonal Directors on 18th January 2010 to block the website http://makepakistanbetter.com on an IP level.

Since its blocked from Pakistan one can still view the website from Google cache and it shows some interesting anti-government articles which may have been the thorn that lead to the blockage. I believe this is a serious invasion of freedom of speech and sadly the PTA has not defined or responded to the reason why this website has been deemed objectionable for users in Pakistan
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US Immigration Form lists Baluchistan as Country of Citizenship

Over the past many years there has been a strong lobby of Baluchistan Separatists Movement who strive to separate the Province of Baluchistan from Pakistan. The efforts in recent times have gained significant foot hold to become the talk of the town in recent few months, Patriotic Pakistanis are generally averse to this proposition while the corrupt politicians continue to strangulate the province forcing the Baluchis to struggle for an independent Baluchistan.

A few years back in 2006 US Armed Forces Journal published a map outlining the new Blood Borders which discussed the possibility of a seperate Baluchistan, this map was met with severe outcry across Pakistan. The pros and cons of such a division are still heavily debated and only until recently has it started taking a turn for the worse

A reader of this blog, Basit, pointed about a surprising discovery in one of the forms published on the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) website, the form under question is the AR-11 [Change of Address] form which is used by non US Nationals to notify the USCIS of any change in address. Surprisingly the field “Country of Citizenship” lists Baluchistan (Pakistan) as an option. Within the list of countries listed, I was relieved to see Pakistan still listed, but cant seem to understand why they chose to list Baluchistan alone and conveniently forgot to list the more populus of our other three provinces like Sindh, Punjab or even NWFP.
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Rehman Malik [Dakait] had a head bounty Rs. 50 Lakh – Jang News fumbles another news item

It seems that the Jang Group [the leading Urdu news paper in Pakistan] is getting a little rustic around the edges of news reporting, a few days back it had inadvertently made Twitter as a Microsoft blog and more recently it has fumbled another hilarious blunder on the local front.

rehman malik or rehman dakait

The blunder comes when a news item was published early Monday morning on the Jang website where it reported that a gangster leader Rehman Dakait [Dakait means robber in urdu] was killed in a police encounter along with his three accomplices. The overall report was generally spot on until the very last sentence where the editor accidentally spoke his heart out to say…
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“Microsoft Blog called Twitter” DDoS’d – Jang

jang logoToday at 8:00pm Pakistan Time Twitter.com service went offline due to a massive DDoS attack on its servers. DDoS attacks are an attempt to make a website inaccessible by technically overloading the servers with millions of instantaneous requests from hundreds of computers scattered across the world.

Twitter a very popular suffered this attack and was literally conked out for over two hours until they slowly recovered their servers to normalcy. The DDoS attacks were definitely worrisome but what really tickled us here in Pakistan was the fact that Jang News had a very unique and interesting twist to this report.

Jang, the local Urdu newspaper, In an effort to explain to its viewers or even in a surge of sheer stupidity they explained Twitter as “Microsoft Blog called Twitter” now that is a joke in its own self. For a fact twitter is not a Microsoft entity and is a Micro-blog and quite definitely not Microsoft’s blog.
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Huffington Post: Pakistani Bloggers Unite for IDP’s

Mona Sarika writes in Huffington Post on how the Pakistani bloggers have united to help the IDP’s in Pakistan. The Pakistani blogging community has joined hands and is calling for action to inform and generate funds for the Internally Displaced People (IDP) of Pakistan. They are using their blogs to spread awareness about the plight of refugees. By communicating the problems to the local and international community, they are hoping to mobilize financial and monetary support for these people and it continues to say These bloggers have become the voice of the voiceless. This is an extraordinary example of the power of bloggers trying to make the government accountable and displaying a high level of social consciousness. These blogs are playing a very significant role in mobilizing help in this time of crisis They are trying their best to make the world a better place for everyone. Note: A special mention for the efforts of Kulsoom from CHUP! & even Teeth Maestro

Nestle Nesvita – Women of Strength 2009

nestle-nesvita-women-of-strengthFor the past few days womens issues have been shoved into the spot light, it initiated a huge debate sparked by the flogging video which aired across the nation and consequentially many issues arise as to how Islam treats Muslim women. With all the hype surrounding the womens issue I was intrigued by the advertising campaign being run by Nestle Nesvita where they are concentrating their campaign around women, granted this is a commercial venture and an attempt to promote their product to the local market but I must applaud their attempt to think-outside-the-box in helping to empower women in Pakistan and become a viable and productive force in the future of Pakistan.

The project is webbed into an online as well as an off-line campaign, the banner adverts targeting readers across Pakistan pushing the female readers to an online form where 26 random lucky participants will be called on a TV show engaging them into a stimulating session where the candidate will share her aspirations and talk freely about the obstacles that she will face in achieving those goals. The team of professionals and experts will then guide her through various exercises and motivational suggestions on how to overcome, setting an example for other women who may follow likewise across Pakistan.
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PTA Blocks websites with Salman Taseer’s pictures ‘Harmful for the integrity of the Country’

Its being reported that PTA has recently blocked six specific URL’s in Pakistan deeming them “harmful for the integrity of the country“. These websites are blocked for carrying a certain set of pictures containing Salman Taseer, The Governor of Punjab & his family.  The PTA is said to have complied upon the request from the Inter Ministerial Committee which has prefered to monitor and block anti-Pakistan, blasphemous, and pornographic web sites.

The alleged pictures had started making rounds on the Internet in early November and consequentially did find its way on a few specific websites, we too did share a couple but preferred to ignore the remaining as they were definitely too personal for public consumption.

Though on a personal level we exercised self-restraint in choosing not to publish the private pictures of his daughter, but I am shocked to see the official bureaucracy go begging at his mercy deeming these websites as harming the national integrity of Pakistan, quite definitely a far fetched lame excuse at best. I am sure there could have been other effective legal measures to bring down these pictures, which would then have been a better representative of a democratically elected government but it seems they still choose to rule by the dictatorial stick. All said, I am definitely shocked to see how easily PTA was eager to comply to this lame excuse on the whims of certain individuals and hope that they quickly revert their decision to block these websites
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