Chief Justice of Pakistan: Guard The Guardians

We sent a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudary on the 5th of March’2012. We have not received a response from his office. A copy of the letter is published below. 

We, as civil society, write to seek your attention on the recent call for proposals by the ICT R&D fund, under Ministry of IT, for a URL filtering and blocking system. We feel strongly about this step by the Ministry of IT as it will:

– Slow down the internet making it effectively useless and hurt the infrastructure;
– Academic paralysis : Students and academics won’t able to conduct research;
– Hampering business both working online and offline;
– Silence political dissent.

During the media crackdown under the dictatorship of General Musharraf, social media and the internet were an effective tool in mobilizing discontent against legal violations, it became an enabler of democratic rights and the driving force behind a movement that ensured Chief Justice of Pakistan’s reinstatement. This time our civil liberties are at stake and this is not just about our democratic rights but also the long-term implication this ban can have on various sectors including academia, business, budding industry of entrepreneurs, the IT sector, the economy and the overall state of the internet.

While countries around the world are working to increase access, ours seems to focused on limiting it. What is out there on the internet, that is so risky, so harmful to national security and religion that requires a $10 million blocking solution?. That is just to begin with, as any technology, this will need regular expensive upgrades. Such as theFacebook ban, because of one offensive page, the crackdown spread from Facebook to YouTube, Google,blogs and even blackberry services. Explanation was not provided. This is not about national security or religion, it is about complete and total control over public spheres. We expect the judiciary to uphold the rights of people, to consider public interest above political rhetoric and most of all to stop curtailing political dissent.

We have faith that you will support us in demanding the government put an end to blanket censorship immediately, give a complete list of innumerable websites already blocked by them, and explain the rampant crackdown.

You have been both the victim and the witness to an information blackout. Therefore we as citizens expect the supreme court and the entire institution of judiciary to react to this attempt of violation of human rights. We have our faith in you.

Sana Saleem
CEO, Bolo Bhi


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