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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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