Several netizens, across the country, have reported that music band Beyghairat Brigarde’s latest video has been blocked by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. While the video remains accessible on certain ISPs, others have blocked it citing the ‘blocked by PTA’ message, that appears if users try and access the video.
Beyghairat Brigade rose to fame when they released their first satirical music video depicting some of the country’s most controversial political issues. The band’s most recent video, however, attempted a rather daring and biting satire by taking on the country’s military.
This is not the first time that content critical of the country’s military has been blocked. In 2011, Rolling Stone Magazine’s website was blocked after it carried a quote from Thomas Friedman’s column questioning the military’s role in politics.
Earlier this month a news channel was taken off-air after an anchor discussed remarks made against the military chief, a facebook page created to expose intelligence agencies role in paying off a think-tank’s spokesperson has also been blocked. Furthermore, websites and blogs that report on military advances in Baluchistan have long been censored.
We strongly condemn this crackdown on free speech, the Pakistan’s government’s criteria for blocking content has always been vague, allowing it to work in favor of those in power. With the recent blockades that has become even more evident.
No institute of the state is above the critique of its citizens, cracking down on voices of dissent and targeting satire artists and journalists is reminiscent of authoritative regimes. Pakistan Telecommunications Authority must:
- Make public who instructed the video to be blocked and under what grounds.
- Make public the list of websites it has blocked so far, citing names of authorities or figures that ordered the take-down.
- Unblock the video and all other sites immediately.
Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, in Urdu. We are a not-for-profit geared towards advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, internet access, digital security and privacy. We are a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds who are passionate about the same causes and believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and citizens. It is by bridging this gap that one can move ahead to chart a way forward and resolve issues through consensus.
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