Google Committed To Internet Freedom In Pakistan

Contact: Sana Saleem CEO – Bolo Bhi

Email: sana@bolobhi.org

 

 

KARACHI June 16:  On Thursday June’14th, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt along with Jared Cohen, Director Google Ideas, hosted a dinner at Serena Hotel, Islamabad, to discuss the use of technology for political, economic and social change in Pakistan. We would like to extend our gratitude for the invitation and would also like to put forward a request. The discussion centered around perceptions of Pakistan’s image amongst the international audience, its potential and the role technology and innovation can play to enhance that.

A group of representatives were invited from diverse backgrounds. Sana Saleem, Executive Director Bolo Bhi, was one of the participants representing rights advocacy alongside Business Tycoons Mian Muhammad Mansha and Hussain Dawood, Social sector representative Amin Hashwani of  Hashoo Group & NOWPDP and Musarat Misbah of Smile Again Foundation, Academic representative Adil Najam of LUMS, Representative from the Government Mosharraf  Zaidi, Serial Entrepreneur & Computer Scientist Umar Saif,  Representative from the Telecom Sector and IT sector Jehan Ara of P@SHA, Wahaj-us-Siraj Convener ISPAK , &  Lars Christian Luel CEO Telenor, Administrator Google Business Groups and representing Android Pakistan Haris Nadeem.

The discussion was focused more on the political situation in the country with an angle on the role of technology in civil society movements. Participants discussed a wide range of issues – while business tycoons discussed their personal experiences and economic success stores, IT and academia representatives urged on the need for Google to have an official presence in Pakistan and promote entrepreneurship, and improving access and free flow of information.

During his trip Pakistan, Mr. Schmidt and the Google delegation met with the Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and  Foreign Minister and other government officials. We were humbled to be invited amongst the most prominent leaders from Pakistan across diverse sectors. During our discussion with Mr. Schmidt, we brought up issues of Internet censorship, crackdown on dissidents and the struggle for Internet freedom in Pakistan. Mr.Schmidt was informed specifically about the recent URL filtering and blocking system. We are delighted that Mr.Schmidt committed to support Internet freedom and access in Pakistan.

We appreciate the invitation from Google Inc and believe that Google’s commitment to increasing access and free flow of information is a huge support for those advocating Internet freedom in Pakistan. While Mr. Schmidt was very keen and supportive of internet freedom in Pakistan we would like to call upon Google Inc to release an official statement acknowledging the struggle for internet freedom in Pakistan and reiterating their support. A statement of support from Google Inc will be helpful in our objective for open and transparent internet policy that will allow for economic growth, free flow of information and increased access in Pakistan.

Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, we are an organization with focus on advocacy, policy and research. Our focus areas include human rights with focus on gender and minority rights, internet freedom and privacy. We believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers,  media and average citizens. Bridging the gap enables collective strength and concentrated focus on the areas that require attention. 

 

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