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Stories from and

Pakistanis Use Twitter To Raise Their Concerns On The Proposed Cybercrime Bill 2015

tweetstormThe proposed Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill in Pakistan has raised concern among local and international human rights organisations as it could put at risk freedom expression and privacy in Pakistan.

Mariam at Catalyst Woman blog reports:

After the dedicated efforts of numerous advocacy groups, ngos and private citizens, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication has agreed to a public hearing of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PEC) Bill 2015 this Friday, 22 May in Islamabad.

Invitations to the “public” hearing have only been extended to six people to appear before a committee of 20 members. According to the Joint Action Committee on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Bill 2015 (PECB) & Alliance For Access:

This is contrary to the spirit of a “public hearing.”

The Joint Action Committee members are definitely among the stakeholders, but we are not the only ones. Instead of hand-picking selected invitees, we call upon the NA Standing Committee on IT to conduct the public hearing in a proper manner, by opening it to all concerned members of the public and invite the entire print and electronic media too, in the spirit of transparency and openness.

The Catalyst woman blog proposed a #Tweetstorm to raise awareness of the public’s concerns about the Cyber Crime Bill in its current state. “There should be a public debate on all aspects of the bill,” the blog says.

A Nobel Prize for All Malalas in the World

Malala Yousafzai. Imagen del usuario  Jabiz Raisdana de Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Malala Yousafzai. Image by user Jabiz Raisdana on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The blog MujeresMundi is an infoactivism project run by Belgium-based Peruvian Xaviera Medina “committed to gender as a key to development”.

Their most recent post refers to the Nobel Peace Prize that has been awarded to education Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai:

[…] Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that Malala is not an isolated case. Education is not an inherent right for girls in many countries, and every day, hundreds of Malalas are threatened for attending to school.

[…]

The 2014 Nobel must remind us that Malala Yousafzai is not an anecdotic case, but a everyday reality of thousands of youngster and children around the world.

Pakistan's State Owned TV Under Siege By Protestors

Last update at 7:45PM GMT, September 1, 2014

Hundred of protestors of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have stormed into the Head Office of Pakistan's state-owned TV channel PTV. On 1st of September at around 11:20 am protesters broke open the main gate of Pakistan Television (PTV) Head Quarters in Islamabad and the station went off air soon.

Since August 14, 2014, tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have been camping out demanding that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down.

Journalist Omar Quraishi tweets:

Employees are trapped and harassed says Pakistani blogger Ghazala Khan.

DawnNews reports that the army was called in to handle the situation and they cleared the PTV office from protesters in 15 minutes. The TV broadcast has been restored.

Mobile Phones Drive Social And Economic Changes In Pakistan

From a slow start in the late Nineteen Nineties mobile phone penetration in Pakistan has jumped up in recent years to 77% nationally and amongst urban class people to almost 100%. Dr. Tahir Rauf at Pak Tea House reports that the ubiquitous mobile phone use in Pakistan has brought a lot of social and economic changes:

These changes in a broader context called Pakistani neoliberalism, characterized by accelerated consumerism with full scale participation in the global economy.

Pakistan's Sindh Province Still Wants to Censor WhatsApp, Viber and Skype

Aamir Atta at ProPakistani reports quoting local media houses that social media applications like WhatsApp, Viber and Skype may be blocked in Pakistan's Sindh province to maintain law and order. The Sindh government had proposed a similar ban in October last year, citing security concerns.

However, experts say because a majority of IP addresses in Pakistan aren't city-specific or province-specific, so a blockade of social media content is not likely possible.

Global Voices Partners With The Balochistan Point

10672355_625780204207965_4155202294766020208_nGlobal Voices has launched a new partnership with Balochistan Point, an English language news site that writes under-reported stories from Pakistan's southwestern province.

The Balochistan Point initiated in 2010 to highlight important news from an area which Pakistan's national online, broadcast and print media largely ignores.

Adnan Amir, the editor at Balochistan Point hopes “unreported news stories from Balochistan will reach a global audience through its partnership with Global Voices.”

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest yet least-populated province. It is its poorest and most under-developed, but is rich in natural resources like coal, natural gas and copper. The Balochistan Point website explains:

The electronic and print media in Pakistan in general, and in Balochistan, in particular has failed to highlight the most important issues of Balochistan. Therefore, there is a stronger need than ever for an alternative platform to report the ignored issues about Balochistan […]

We stand for human rights, democracy, social and economic justice. The newspaper aims to mirror Balochistan. The volunteers of Balochistan Point launched it to keep reporting on human rights abuse, political, social and economic issues of Balochistan. Our center of focus is Balochistan but we are not limited to it. We also report on important issues at a national level that has implications for the Balochistan province and its people.

Like Global Voices, Balochistan Point is driven by volunteers and its “doors are always open to aspiring writers.” Global Voices will republish Balochistan Point content regularly. Sometimes we will edit their stories to add context and tailor them for our global audience.

We kick off this partnership with three articles Risking Their Lives to Save Pakistanis From Polio,  How a Bus Stop Row is Crippling Public Transport in Balochistan's Capital and For Pakistan's Struggling National Airline, Balochistan Comes Last.

Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.

Here are some examples:

Sri Lanka Plans to Deport 1,500 Pakistani and Afghan Refugees

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra town. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra, Pakistan. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.

According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.

Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.

W3Lanka English blog opines:

The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?

The Unintended Consequences of Pakistan's Operation Zarb-e-Azb

On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint-military operation involving Pakistan against armed insurgent groups such as the Taliban (TTP), al–Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The operation started exactly a week after the terrorist attack on the Karachi airport. Kashif Aziz at Chowrangi fears that innocent people will suffer and seek refuge elsewhere to avoid the military attacks and the backlash of the militants:

This offensive in Waziristan will bring a fresh wave of IDPs [internally displaced people] to other parts of Pakistan. They need to be accommodated with care.

Hope the operation will end swiftly and without much collateral damage.

Helping Children Learning Urdu Alphabets

Chowrangi blog informs about a free interactive mobile app which introduces kids to Urdu alphabets and words. The app titled “Urdu Ustad” originally had the diaspora Urdu-speaking families as its target audience, but recently majority of download requests have come from Pakistan proving its usefulness.

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