U.S. embassy Facebook video sparks anger from Pakistanis

A seemingly benign promo video for the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, which was posted to Facebook on Wednesday, has sparked some angry commenter back-and-forth on the social network.

It appears that it's not necessarily what's in the video that bothers Pakistanis, but rather the reminder of the U.S. presence in Pakistan at a time when relations between the two countries are clearly strained.

The video, "Sunday in Islamabad with Ambassador Olson," shows the ambassador donned in a pink button-up and khaki slacks cruising around Pakistan's capital city chatting with people, sampling the local … Read more

Google to be banned in Pakistan if it doesn't clean up YouTube

With YouTube already shuttered in Pakistan, Google is now reportedly facing an all-out ban in that country, according to The Times of India.

The country's new IT and telecommunication minister, Anusha Rahman Khan, announced that unless Google removes "blasphemous and objectionable material" from YouTube, the country will block access to all Google sites.

"It all depends on our negotiation clout," Khan said, according to The Times of India. "If they persist with their stance, we can block Google in Pakistan as a last resort as there are many alternative search engines available on the … Read more

YouTube makes brief return to Pakistan after 3-month ban

YouTube made a brief reappearance in Pakistan yesterday after a three-month absence.

The video-sharing service, which was blocked by that country's government in September, was available to Internet users in Pakistan for somewhere between three minutes and three hours on Saturday, depending on which media outlet one believes. The ban on the site, which has been blocked since refusing to pull a clip that mocks the prophet Muhammad, was lifted then reinstated after it was found to still host "blasphemous" content.

YouTube was blocked in Pakistan on September 17 after the Middle East erupted in protests in … Read more

Pakistan blocks Twitter over 'blasphemous' images, report says

The Pakistani government blocked access to Twitter over potential "blasphemous" caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, according to several reports.

Twitter was asked by the government to stop a discussion about a contest over Muhammad caricatures, something it refused to do. As a result, access to the site has been blocked, according to the Express Tribune. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority passed down the directive to Internet service providers in the country, and said it couldn't say how long the site would be blocked.

Access to Twitter in Pakistan was later restored on orders from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza … Read more

'Dark trade' in Web-censoring tools exposed by Pakistan plan

For years, Silicon Valley companies have quietly conducted a lucrative trade selling software and equipment to countries that restrict dissent over the Internet. But the recent dust-up involving an Internet filtering plan by Pakistan has turned the spotlight on a controversial business that may have a difficult time remaining secret much longer.

Broad public backlash appears to have prompted Pakistan officials to back off plans this week to build a system that will enable them to easily filter and block Internet content seen by the more than 170 million people living in the country. But Pakistan isn't the first … Read more

Pakistan pulling plug on controversial Internet filter--report

Pakistan may scrap a controversial plan to block and filter the Internet nationwide.

A member of Pakistan's National Assembly told the internationally affiliated newspaper Express Tribune that the Ministry of Information Technology had decided to withdraw the plan.

The legislator--Bushra Goha, who represents the country's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region--said she was informed by a senior ministry official that the plan is being withdrawn "due to the concern shown by various stakeholders."

Officially, the MoIT has neither confirmed nor denied the report, according to the paper. A spokesperson said to expect a statement on the project's future Tuesday.… Read more

Pakistan's Internet filter has the Valley buzzing over who's bidding

It's the bid that dares not (publicly) speak its name.

Friday was the deadline for companies to file their applications to win a piece of a Pakistani project that has stoked controversy stretching from to South Asia to Silicon Valley.

In late February, Pakistan's National ICT R&D Fund, which represents the government, began inviting bids to help create a "national-level URL filtering and blocking system." The system was described as a way to protect the public from "undesirable content."

Many countries have deployed web filtering and blocking systems at the Internet backbones … Read more

Youngest female Microsoft Certified Professional dies at 16

Arfa Karim, the youngest girl ever to become a Microsoft Certified Professional, passed away in her native country of Pakistan on Saturday owing to complications from an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest. She would have turned 17 next month.

Granted the MCP title in 2004, Karim was only 9 years old at the time, making her the youngest MCP in Pakistan and reportedly the second youngest in the world, just behind India's Mridul Seth, who became an MCP at the age of 8. Her excitement about technology first bubbled up after her father bought her a PC, mainly to … Read more

Pakistan bans rude text messages

The more one travels, the more one lives in foreign countries, the more one realizes that not everyone thinks the same way.

This is a good thing. Because if everyone was, say, American, then the whole world would feel more comfortable with violence, rather than sex. Which would have dire consequences for the world's ability to procreate. And recreate.

One wonders, though, whether there are many countries in the world that would support Pakistan banning rude text messages.

The Guardian has politely informed me that the country's telecoms regulator banished around 1,600 words or phrases that are … Read more

Sohaib Athar on Twitter fame after bin Laden raid (Q&A)

As U.S. special forces assaulted Osama bin Laden's walled compound in Pakistan, a Twitter user was already recording a rough outline of the events to come.

Sohaib Athar, who describes himself as a 33-year-old programmer and consultant "taking a break from the rat race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops," happened to be staying up late at the time. And, from an account called Really Virtual, he live-blogged what he heard.

Athar's real-time dispatches and self-effacing follow-ups have transformed him into an instant online celebrity. He's received at least one marriage proposal--through … Read more