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YouTube Blocked, Unblocked and Blocked Again in Pakistan

After three months of a government imposed ban on YouTube, Pakistanis could finally access the video sharing site on December 29, 2012. But the relief was short-lived.

@ayeshaesque: YouTube blocked, unblocked, and then blocked again within hours is such a joke. #Pakistan

India's change.org Communicatons Director Raheel Khursheed tweeted:

@Raheelk: Wow something shorter than Kim Kardashian marriage! #Pakistan'sYoutubeAffair

So what was behind the sudden bizarre brief unblock? On Twitter Islamabad's TedX Curator Saad Hamid wrote:

@SaadGH: Someone in the ministry found a YouTube on/off switch and now the ministers are having with it.

@SaadGH Perhaps YouTube was unblocked for 5 mins because baby Bilawal wanted to see his Katrina-akin performance from the recent jalsa [rally]. Hmm!

Saad is talking about the feisty speech made by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the President's son and co-chairman of Pakistan's ruling party at his mother's death anniversary on December 27. Before the sudden ‘re'-ban, Saad instagrammed this picture of his wife browsing YouTube.

Talat Aslam, an editor with Pakistan's widest read English daily The News complained:

 @titojourno Don't tell me they've unblocked then blocked YouTube again! Had a long list of stuff I wanted to watch. And no. THAT film was not on my list

Talat is referring to the “Innocence of Muslims,” the low budget 13-minute film that caused outrage all over the Muslim World, and resulted in protests, deaths and country bans on YouTube, which refused to remove the film from its site.

Image by Sherbien Dacalanio. copyright Demotix (17/9/2012)

Image by Sherbien Dacalanio. copyright Demotix (17/9/2012)

Mansoor Ali Khan, a broadcast journalist with Geo News, (owned by the same media conglomerate as The News) tweeted:

@MansoorGeoNews Congratulations #Pakistan: Our government can't even make simple decisions about opening websites and we expect them to tackle terrorism

Ironically, according to blogger Kala Kawa both The News and Geo News were behind the sudden re-ban of YouTube. On his blog he explains in The Great YouTube Escapade:

Ansar Abbasi [The News reporter] notified Geo News (a vile, repulsive little channel) that objectionable materials are still available on YouTube. We yawned in shock! Ansar Abbasi is a man of many talents and of outsize reputation. It had barely been a moment since he proclaimed the awfulness of YouTube, that our Prime Minister sprung into action.

Netizen and lawyer Ali Ansari tweeted:

@alizansariIf the PM was on Twitter. I would block him a million times over and report him as spam.

Kala Kawa continued to explain the bigger problem behind the fiasco:

A confluence of idiocy of the sort that we see on a regular basis in Pakistan has ruled again. Courts that have somehow come to believe that they represent the will of the people, create orders that limit our agency in one wave of their robe. Journalists who have inflated their sense of self to the point where they no longer recognize themselves, inform us of how we ought to behave in our private lives. A civilian government that proclaims itself to be secular bends to the will of every right wing demand at the expense of those that are ideologically aligned with them. Unfortunately, none of this is new to us. Even worse, this is far from the last time something like this will happen to us.

ADDENDUM: Geo News is proudly proclaiming its role in getting YouTube banned again. As is fully evident to anyone with a semblance of intelligence, this is NOT something to be proud of.

The Twitter account Karachi Post, which describes itself as the country's “only Left-Liberal, social news outlet and Think Tank” lashed out at Geo News:

‏@Karachi_Post: Idiots we live in a global village & its almost impossible to censure internet content completely.Why don't you get this #Geo ?

Well-respected columnist and political analyst Raza Rumi summed up the sentiment felt by many netizens:

@Razarumi: Am using a proxy to access @youtube and other banned sites – its working well. Will DEFY this senseless [re]ban – down with censorship!!

  • taqiya

    youtube videos can be unblocked as the unblocker adds a link to play the blocked video which opens in a new tab via a proxy site and the video will be submitted automatically and can be seen.

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