Tag Archives: blocking

New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The high-stakes battle between Pakistan’s judiciary and government took a fresh twist on Thursday when a court issued an arrest warrant for a close ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, effectively blocking his nomination as the country’s next prime minister.

Mr. Zardari wanted Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a former health minister from Punjab Province, to replace Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

But hours after Mr. Shahabuddin’s nomination, a magistrates court, prompted by the military-run Anti-Narcotics Force, ordered his arrest to face charges relating to the illegal production of a controlled drug two years ago.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, a son of the outgoing prime minister, in relation to the same case.

The ruling party Pakistan Peoples Party quickly nominated a new candidate, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who now looks likely to become the prime minister after a vote in parliament on Friday.

The dramatic court manoeuver highlights the growing difficulty of separating law from politics in the country’s rapidly evolving machinations of power.

Mr. Zardari’s supporters, and some analysts, say judiciary is using its widening powers to erode the authority of the government and ultimately push it from power. “Absolutely no subtlety anymore in going after the govt. Amazing,” wrote Nadeem F. Paracha, a newspaper columnist, on Twitter.

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Court Orders Arrest of Presidential Ally

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

Introduction of Black Law for Internet Censorship by Alleged Democratic Government of PPP

The filtering and blocking system will function as a firewall for the entire country and will have the potential to block the access of any specific URL throughout the country.

In yet another move that appears to be aimed towards internet censorship in Pakistan, a government department has called for proposals for the development, deployment and operation of a national level URL Filtering and Blocking System.

The ad had been placed in local papers by National ICT R&D Fund, a division of the Ministry of Information Technology, on February 22, 2012. The proposal request states that each box of the system “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs with a processing delay of not more than 1 millisecond.”

The filtering and blocking system will function as a firewall for the entire country and will have the potential to block the access of any specific URL throughout the country.

According to the Request for Proposal available on the ICT R&D Fund website, the system should be capable of filtering and blocking URLs from the domain level to sub-folder, file levels and also specific file types. Additionally, the system should have the ability to block a single IP or a range of IPs.

The proposal states that the solution should be able to handle 85Gbps of bandwidth and should have growth scalability of around 40% to 50% every year. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

MQM: a neo fascist organization

– By: Farooq Tariq

I started visiting Karachi in the mid-1990s after the Labor Party established a group there. Whenever I came to speak to a public meeting, comrades advised me to avoid verbal attacks on the MQM. “We have to live here” was the usual justification.

After the National Trade Union Federation was formed in 1998, I was one of the key speakers at the annual May Day rallies in Karachi. And whenever I ignored the advice and called the MQM a neo-fascist organization, I received maximum applause. It seemed that among the Karachi working class there was tremendous antagonism against the MQM, but not many were prepared to speak publically against this organization.

On 10th September 2011, speaking on GEO television, Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi, responded to the criticism of some who talked to Hamid Mir by commenting, in coded language, of retaliation against those who dare to be critical. He falsely compared Bangladesh’s struggle for independence struggle with the situation of Karachi. One was a struggle by an exploited nationality against the atrocious treatment of the West Pakistan civilian and military establishment while in Karachi today there is a struggle to break the shackles of the neo-fascists, who have attempted to strangle working people for over three decades.

I distinctly remember 12 May 2007, when I was going to speak at a peasant rally in Punjab. I received several calls from Karachi, one from Azra Perveen, a female activist of the Labour Party. She had been part of a group organized by LPP to go to a rally at the airport and welcome the chief justice. Shots rang out while buses were still arriving. The main victims were ANP activists, whose bus had to stop and let the passengers rush to find safe places. Azra, whose white dress was drenched in blood, was forced to hide behind a pole as she tried to help the wounded.

I tried to contact Eidhi, the BBC and other media to aid activists encircled by MQM thugs. Earlier in the morning, I was informed that all the transport arranged by LPP had been withdrawn on the instructions of the MQM. No one was willing to risk their transport. In fact the previous day, even commercial painters refused to prepare the LPP banners because of the fear of retaliation by MQM. Nevertheless brave activists of the LPP, ANP and some other parties attempted to get the airport. They found containers blocking the roads and were fired on at several places.

On 10th September 2011 night, I was very angry to hear Mustafa Kamal denying that the MQM played a role in shedding blood in May 2007. Earlier in the press conference from his exile cage, Altaf Hussain, the “leader” accepted the MQM the “negligence” by the local chapter of MQM. And what a negligence, over 50 were killed, chief justice was unable to come out from the airport, all the main roads were blocked by the heavy containers and so on. This was an act of fascism. MQM believes in fascist philosophy that means the physical elimination of political opponents.

It was no accident that when Benazir Bhutto visited our bookstall in Lahore in 1992, she bought all fifty copies of a bookletFASCISM What It Is and How To Fight It.” The booklet was written by Leon Trotsky and translated in Urdu by Dr. Khalid Javed Jan. Benazir Bhutto must have felt the need to arm the activists of PPP with this booklet. And what a historical paradox that her husband Asif Ali Zardari is trying his best to go along with this terrorist organization instead of fighting it in an effort to win a “peace” in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.

You cannot have peace by compromising with the fascists. That is a lesson evident from studying the political history of the fascism. All the social democrats and even the communists who tried to compromise with Hitler, Mussolini, and Franc, the fascist leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, became their victims. Fascists are not democrats. They do not believe in democracy. For them democracy is just an opportunity to spread their influence.

What is fascism? It is a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism. It is a mass movement, with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. Its base is the petty bourgeoisie, the middle class.

The capital of Sindh, Karachi has been in the grip of a one-party dictatorship for long time. The MQM talks of revolution, instead of Socialist demagogy. It has always had close links with the military establishment; they always make efforts to smooth over any differences. The MQM gave full support to General Musharaf.

MQM has always used the race issue to unite the groups around it. Racism may be defined as the hatred of one person or group by another because of skin, color, language, customs, place of birth or any other factor. This reveals the belief that one is less than human establishes an unequal power relationship that is perpetuated through wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes.

In order to popularize its message, the MQM propagated the “discriminated” attitude of the Sindhis, Punjabis, Pushtoons and Baluchs against Urdu-speaking migrants. It uses the racist card to divide the working class in Karachi, the main industrial city of Sindh, Pakistan. MQM members make jokes about the native Balucies and Sindhies, revealing a contemptuous attitude that these people are not “civilized” enough to be equal to other people.

When journalist Hamid Mir asked a question Hyder Abbas Rizvi, a MQM representative of MQM, why the party pressurized the AAJ television channel to sack Nusarat Javed, one of the channel’s main anchor people who was sacked during a programme when he was criticizing MQM fascist tactics, , he responded by denying the charges, stating that no one from MQM called the AAJ owners. That may be so, but the sheer fear of MQM retaliation might have forced the owners to sack this reputed journalist.

What had Nusrat Javed said? He simply reacted to the three-hour press conference by Altaf Hussain, the chief of MQM by stating the whole nation was kept hostage for five hours. Yet the MQM representative slyly remarked that the MQM did not force the media to broad the entire conference but only gave out a press release announcing the conference. Yet it is the fear of retaliation by MQM that forced all the media to carry the entire the press conference live for over 5 hours.

Recent developments have forced the neo-fascist MQM retreat from their ambitious plan to expand nationally. All their sloganeering against feudalism is rolled back to their original political stand that to maintain their base among the Muhajirs, taking refuge in Karachi.

The case of the MQM exposes the failure of Pakistani state to address the question of racism and fascism. In fact, the Pakistani state is deeply rooted in religious bigotry and racist superiority where some nationalities are dominant and others are oppressed. It has tried to impose the Urdu language on the Bengalis as early as 1948. Sindhies have had to wage a struggle for their linguistic rights. The emergence of the MQM in the mid-1980, with the help of the military dictator General Zia Ul Haq was mainly based on the supposed superiority of the Urdu language. Different institutions of the state played vital role in bringing this monster up in the air and the MQM has very cleverly used this attitude against all other local, indigenous and other languages.

Today the MQM-PPP alliance reveals a crisis of bourgeoisie democracy. The PPP government is facing one of the most real crises it has faced so far during the three and half year of power. It is both the crisis of the system and the leadership. The so-called clever, smart, witty, intelligent, gifted and chic leadership of Asif Ali Zaradari has to confront one of his most trusted handpicked Zulfiqar Mirza. The crisis has weakened the grip of PPP leadership from its own apparatus. It has weakened their basis in Sindh. That is a result of their policies of conciliations with the neo-fascists MQM. You can never gain by allying with your own enemies.

The working class must not have any illusions in Zulfiqar Mirza’s fight against the fascists. He wants to reap the anger of the working people of Sindh against MQM and put it back to PPP or to the military establishment but he cannot wage a serious fight against the fascists.

What is the way forward? It is revealed in the current struggle of the workers at Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for jobs and against privatization. Here we see the MQM and the PPP united to crush the heroic struggle of the KESC trade union with state repression. We must support this struggle and demand an immediate release of the workers, organizing strike support actions. Building the working-class movement in Karachi is the answer to the present crisis.

It is with the present political scenario that the forces of the Left can expose the real nature of the neo-fascist forces and the danger it presents for the working class in Pakistan. At different times religious fundamentalists or the neo-fascist MQM have been promoted by state institutions and bourgeoisie in order to divide and conquer and thus maintain rotten capitalism. Both, along their master, deserve rejection by the working people of Pakistan.

About the writer – Farooq Tariq is spokesperson of the Labour Party Pakistan

Courtesy: → SocialistPakistan, September 12, 2011

via → Indus Herald

Pakistan ‘blocking supplies to US base’

Pakistan is blocking food and water from reaching a remote base used by the US for its secret drones programme, severely hampering counter terrorism strategy, according to a senior American official.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

Both sides are now briefing against the other as hostility between the two countries grows more intense – and more open – day by day.

Pakistan’s military has not recovered from the humiliation of failing to detect an American raid last month that killed Osama bin Laden and has reduced or halted co-operation with the US in protest.

A senior American official told The New York Times that supplies had been choked off to the airbase and that they were gradually “strangling the alliance” by making things difficult for the Americans in Pakistan. …

Read more: Telegraph.co.uk

Is Imran supporting the Taliban? – by Naeem Tahir

Excerpt:

…. His political stance needs a careful and serious analysis. The main point of concern is that he has never taken a clear stand against the activities of the Taliban. Instead, he has been pleading for a ‘negotiated’ settlement, knowing full well that all negotiations and ‘peace’ agreements have been used by the Taliban for the purpose of consolidating and then continuing terror activity. He should have offered to negotiate himself if he was confident of this course of action. The failure of the infamous Swat agreements must still be fresh in the public memory. Imran has never supported the army action. This includes army action in Swat and in South Waziristan. He has not even condemned the attacks on army General Headquarters (GHQ) and, more recently, the attack on the Pakistan Navy Station (PNS) Mehran base.

On the other hand, he is prominent in demanding the blocking of supplies to NATO forces through Pakistan — a step which would help the Taliban. He is against drone attacks. It is true that the drones cause regrettable collateral damage but they also target the al Qaeda and its supporters. The Taliban also demand an end to drones. Imran is prominently part of anti-US campaigns. True that many American policies have been self-serving, but then it is our responsibility to protect Pakistan’s interests against any foreign country, not just the US. Just being against the US and the war on terror is again an indirect help to the Taliban. Most significantly, his calling the war on terror as an American war is the standard Taliban slogan. Over 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed due to the Taliban’s terror attacks. Is it still not our war?

Looking at these factors, one is forced to question: what side is Imran on?

He is agitating in Karachi against the supplies to NATO forces, and the drone attacks. He was active with the extreme Right in protesting against Raymond Davis’ release. He has been doing sit-in protests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In fact, the PTI has been doing so many protests that it may be aptly called Tehreek-e-Ehtijaj. Imran’s group seems to be joining every protest and playing to the gallery.

This strategy has also given certain advantages to Imran Khan. Consistent ‘exposure’ is one of these. Perhaps more significant is the fact that he has won over a sizeable portion of the supporters of Nawaz Sharif. This support primarily comes from the Taliban or their sympathisers. So Imran Khan is obliged to toe their line. As a politician he realised that the white collar will not win him an election but the rightists may. They get together, provide street power as well as loud noises, and this works to collect crowds. Imran is the preferred choice of extreme Right also because of his energetic style, which is more convincing than that of Nawaz Sharif; his eloquence is impressive against Nawaz Sharif’s limited capability, and indeed Imran is a ‘fresh’ image as compared to the repeatedly tried image of Nawaz Sharif. He may find it very hard to risk alienating himself from this segment. He also likes to have them because it is quieting down the critics of his flamboyance and flirtations of youth.

Soon there will be the final stage when Imran may need to do some soul searching once again, and decide if he is going to flow with the tide of extremist groups or stand on his own and refuse to be their cover politician.

To read complete article: Daily Times

Shift in Turkey policy worries EU, NATO – By Shiraz Paracha

Keeping Turkey under control and on board is becoming a serious challenge for the United States and the European Union (EU) as the Turkish public and government are frustrated with Western double standards and hypocritical policies.

Turkey is transforming from a pro-Western state to a country that is bursting with anti-imperialist and anti-racist sentiments. The ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey represents the public feelings. The West, particularly, the EU has infuriated the Turkish public by blocking Turkey’s entry into the EU.

 

Turkey, an ally of the West and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1952, is now also looking towards East. The United States, the EU and Israel are watching Turkey with great caution and perhaps with certain nervousness.

Under the leadership of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been building relations with its neighbors, under a doctrine called ‘zero troubles with neighbors’.

The Justice and Development Party pushes for Turkey’s EU membership but at the same time demands justice and respect from its European partners.

Europe accepts Turkey as a military partner, but the EU seems to have less appetite for a political partnership with Turkey. Germany and France, especially, have been creating obstacles in the way of Turkey’s joining the EU.

German and French opposition to Turkish membership of the EU is rooted in history. The attitude of the EU’s biggest states towards Turkey has its roots in religious and cultural hatred of Turks. …

Read more : CriticalPPP