Update: The Twitter ban in Pakistan has now been lifted, after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mr. Gilani Ordered to lift the ban. Original story follows
Exactly after two years, Pakistan Government authorities have yet again blocked access to micro blogging site Twitter.com on the issue of “blasphemous images” of Prophet Muhammad, reports the Express tribune. This is confirmed through a video clip on Zemtv.com’s YouTube channel, a local Television reporting agency. The video has been embedded below:
Ironically, Pakistan’s interior minister Mr. Rehman malik tweeted this morning that social sites such as Twitter and Facebook will continue to operate in Pakistan and they will not be blocked. He stressed that all such reports are nothing but rumors but the fact is that hours after he posted his tweet, Twitter has become inaccessible from several parts of Pakistan.
The alleged material was promoting a competition to post “blasphemous” images of Prophet Muhammad on Facebook and Twitter. This is the second time Twitter has been blocked in Pakistan (after Facebook and YouTube) and what surprises me even more is that the issue remains all the very same – religious sentiments. This reminds me of the death warrant case against Facebook founder Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, when he was investigated for the highly controversial “Everybody Draw Muhammad” page on Facebook (now taken down).
“We have been negotiating with them until last night, but they did not agree to remove the stuff, so we had to block it.”, said Mr Yaseen, Pakistan’s Minister of Information technology. “The ministry officials are still trying to make them (Twitter) agree, and once they remove that stuff, the site will be unblocked”, he added.
India, the neighboring country, is also prone to religious and political chaos and we have a couple of examples to consider. Quite recently, the Indian Government imposed a partial censorship on all BlogSpot blogs, after Google and other Internet companies were asked to remove objectionable content followed by a court order. I don’t think imposing bans or passing censorship laws helps in the long run. People who want to defame someone, will find alternative means, you block it and they will find another vehicle – this cycle goes on infinitely. The internet is an “open playground”; without any so called “boundaries” and everyone is just another player in this ever expanding game.
If you’re reading this from Pakistan and you can’t access Twitter, Facebook or other social networking sites, please read our guide on accessing blocked sites.