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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid