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Posts tagged with: Free Speech

STAY GRANTED: Constitutional Petition Preventing PTA from Blocking of Websites

On the 17th of April 2012, seven individuals, Dr. Awab Alvi, Sana Saleem, Faisal Kapadia, Nazim Haji, Naeem Sadiq, Noman Quadri and Ayesha Tammy Haq, through their lawyer Haider Waheed with Basil Nabi Malik, petitioned the High Court of Sindh at Karachi challenging the arbitrary and random acts of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in blocking/ censoring and restricting access to various websites in violation of the fundamental rights of the owners of the websites/online forums as well as the public at large, and without affording the aggrieved persons an opportunity of being heard or due notice.

It was prayed in the said petition that no website could be blocked/ censored or restricted without affording the aggrieved parties (including the public at large) due notice and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with Articles 4, 9, 10-A, 18, 19, 19A, 20 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, read with Section 6 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Act, 1996.

The Honorable High Court of Sindh issued notice to the Federation of Pakistan, through the Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, through its Chairman, and furthermore ordered the PTA not to block any website other than in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996.

It may be noted that as per the PTA Act, the correct procedure to be followed before blocking or censoring of websites is as per Section 6 of the said Act, which states,

Section 6:  Responsibilities of the Authority.—In exercising its functions and powers under this Act, the Authority shall ensure that—

  • Rights of licensees are duly protected;
  • All of its decisions and determinations are made promptly, in an open equitable, non-discriminatory, consistent and transparent manner;
  • All applications made to it are disposed of expeditiously;
  • The persons affected by its decisions or determinations are given a due notice thereof and provided with an opportunity of being heard;
  • Fair competition in the telecommunication sector exists and is maintained
  • The interests of users of telecommunication services are duly safeguarded and protected.

The said petition has not been made to stop the banning of any website or forum contrary to the rules already laid out by the PTA but has instead the objective of bringing the entire process under judicial review to insure its fairness, transparency and to provide a proper system of redress of the parties owning these websites and forums and protect the fundamental rights of the public at large, including internet users, in Pakistan.
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Join the Constitutional Petition for Protecting our Fundamental Rights Online

Blocked Internet in PakistanFor quite sometime Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has been blocking websites in Pakistan on the instructions of the Government, or otherwise, other than in accordance with the law. As per the constitution of Pakistan such blocking infringes upon the fundamental rights, of the people of Pakistan as well as that of the owner of the website:

  1. The Freedom of Expression as protected by Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan;
  2. The Right to Information as guaranteed by Article 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.

We are in the process of taking the PTA to court in an effort to seek an interim injunction restraining the PTA from blocking access to any website without following due diligence and fair hearing from the aggrieved persons (as out lined in Section 6 of the PTA Act, 1996)

A summary of the petition to be presented in the Honorable High Court of Sindh is as follows. If you agree and would like to be a party to this petition, then please FILL THIS FORM before Wednesday 11th April 2012.

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National Bloggers Conference Update

Today marked a historic event in the Pakistani Blogosphere, where the Sindh Ministry of IT sponsored a full fledged conference on blogging. The event was hosted at a local hotel in Karachi and was attended by a large audience and had some excellent presentations by a few well known bloggers in Pakistan. The Chief Guest was Federal Minister Dr. Farooq Sattar and was graced by Ardershir Cowasjee a prominent columnist whilst Mr. Raza Haroon, Sindh Minister of IT played host.

The event was extensively Live Blogged and the updates can be seen here & here

The highlight of the evening was the recognition of Umema Adil who completed her MCP [Microsoft Certified Professional] certification at the tender age of 11, she was presented with a laptop from the Minister and a heavy wrapped gift [?] from Cisco. The event was moderated by Rabia Garib and Barrister Ali Chishti and it kicked off with a short introduction and welcome address by the Sindh Minsiter of IT, followed by a number of presentation by fellow bloggers like Jehan Ara, Ammar Yasir, Farhan Chawla, Raja Islam, Ramla Akhtar, Ammar [Urdu Blogger] and myself.
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Statement on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Pakistan | Shanaakht Festival

Sign the petition condemning the violence at the against the violence at the Shanaakht Festival

shanaakht festivalThis great city of Karachi was the venue of the 2nd Shanaakht Festival held at the Arts Council, Karachi. Over 1000 exhibits of Art were received and featured at this Festival and it was open to the general public. On the first day [i.e. 8-4-2009] of the 2nd Shanaakht Festival, a small group of individuals entered the Arts Council, Karachi, disrupted the Festival and vandalized the exhibition at the Festival. The disruption and vandalism of the Exhibition was done on the ground that one of the exhibits was objectionable and disrespectful of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. It is important to note that these people never approached the organizers to launch a complaint or for the removal of the exhibit that they found objectionable. It is also been reported in the ‘The News’ on 10-4-2009 that a F.I.R. has also been initiated against the organizer of the Festival and artist of the objectionable exhibit.

Without defending the said exhibit of art and without deliberating on the issue as to whether the exhibit of art was objectionable and disrespectful or not, we respect the point of view of all persons who found the exhibit objectionable and disrespectable and we sympathize with them for their emotional distress. We also respect the right of all persons to peacefully protest and criticize any exhibit or piece of art which they deem objectionable. What we are concerned and disturbed about are the actions of some people, whatsoever the grounds maybe, who disrupted and vandalized the exhibition and endangered the life and security of the citizens present. What we are further perturbed about is the use of the criminal law against persons who have a different point of view.
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