News / Asia

Pakistan Province Halts Skype Over Security Concerns

FILE - The Skype logo is pictured at Skype headquarters in Luxembourg, May 10, 2011.
FILE - The Skype logo is pictured at Skype headquarters in Luxembourg, May 10, 2011.
Reuters
Pakistani authorities have banned instant messaging and internet telephony services including Skype, Whatsapp and Viber in the province of Sindh for three months for security reasons, a government spokesman said on Thursday.
 
Sindh's capital is Karachi, a city of 18 million people that is Pakistan's economic hub, and is plagued by Islamist militant and sectarian violence as well as kidnappings and contract killings.
 
Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon did not spell out how closing down the networks would improve security. But security services say instant messaging and internet telephony are used by militants and other armed groups to plan attacks.
 
It was also not clear if Pakistan's other three provinces would follow suit, or even if the ban could be practically enforced. Officials from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority did not return calls requesting comment.
 
The decision was taken after a meeting attended by the Sindh chief minister and senior police and intelligence officials.
 
“We are imposing a ban on Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Tango and other networks,” Memon told a news conference. “The ban will remain in place for at least three months for security reasons.”
 
Sana Saleem, a co-founder of Pakistani internet advocacy group Bolo Bhi, said any move to stifle Skype would be illegal.
 
“This is just the government trying to show they are cracking down when they have failed to control law and order problems,” she said. “Sadly they are doing that by taking away people's fundamental rights.”
 
Karachi not only suffers from frequent Taliban and sectarian bombings but also mafia-like politicians who enjoy a stranglehold on the city's security services.
 
Police are poorly trained, poorly equipped and most are too low-ranking to fill in a basic crime report, according to a study last year by the Asia Society.
 
Pakistan has taken to clamping down on internet freedoms of late. In September 2012, the Pakistani government blocked YouTube after an anti-Islamic video was posted online.
 
Since then, Pakistan has blocked liberal websites although has left militant sites untouched.
 
Islamabad recently signed a contract with Canadian company Netsweeper, according to Canadian research group CitizenLab, after advertising for a firm that would allow it to block 50 million websites at a time.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More