Stories about censorship

What impact does social media have on journalism?

Not so long ago, there were only a select number of news communication and news transmission mediums present; be it newspapers or television based news channels. Especially speaking about the former, newspapers were constrained, time bound, and limited in terms of what to report and how to report it. Flash forward to 2014, we frequently and repeatedly see how pivotal and crucial social media has been to the news industry with context to live coverage of a certain event. Whether TV based news mediums or print, utilising social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have become the norm. Not only are these tools used ...

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Will North Korea consider this blog an “act of war”?

Facing what could be his harshest critic yet, Seth Rogen’s upcoming film, “The Interview”, has been rated 4.5 nukes by the fuming Supreme Leader of North Korea whom it has satirised.   A spokesperson for the dictatorial regime has accused the Obama administration, which allegedly ‘masterminded’ the movie, of “provocative insanity”, and deemed the movie an outright “act of war”. According to the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “If the United States administration tacitly approves or supports the release of this film, we will take a decisive and merciless countermeasure.” It is unlikely that the “merciless countermeasure” would be a caricature of ...

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In Pakistan and trying to read the BJP manifesto? Nope, can’t access it!

The right wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recently released manifesto says many things – and newspapers and people all over the world tell me a lot of it is problematic. There’s something about a reversal of India’s nuclear doctrine, apparently. And an Indian friend of mine told me they might be cutting beef production. But I wouldn’t know, because I can’t access BJP’s website, and neither can anyone else in Pakistan. Interestingly, it isn’t our government that banned it; the BJP itself made its website inaccessible to people from Pakistan, citing hacking threats. While the hacking threat may not be entirely ...

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Spotflux blocked in Pakistan, what’s next?

George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four describes a dystopic nightmare set in a totalitarian one-party state called Oceania. Its ruler – Big Brother – is omnipresent with telescreens monitoring the private and public lives of every individual. It controls the populace by ensuring that access to any independent opinion is denied. The official government slogan is, “Ignorance is strength.” It seems that the Government of Pakistan has decided to bring this slogan into practice. By expanding the scope of online content censorship, the state is not only limiting the free flow of information to Pakistani web surfers one URL at a time, it is also diluting the ...

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Why are we being cut off from independent Pakistani films?

In the last few months, screenings of movies with a strong Pakistani connection has surged in the United States. It has been culturally very exciting and rewarding to watch these fantastic films and afterwards attend interactive sessions with their directors and crew-members.  Saving Face, These Birds Walk, Without Shepherd, The Waves, Night Life, Lamha (Seedlings), The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Zinda Bhaag, Torn, Wounds of Waziristan, Good Morning Karachi and Anima State were presented at different film festivals in the United States. A few also went into commercial distribution. While movies like Waar and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi did create a buzz in the Pakistani cinema market, most of the internationally released movies were overlooked by the mainstream Pakistani media. What ...

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Ayub Khan and the Pakistani film industry

A leading film-maker once asserted to me that Pakistani cinema had actually thrived through the advent of Ayub Khan’s military rule. This thought is part of the broader belief amongst some quarters that the dictatorship eras have provided a certain amount of socio-economic growth and development for Pakistan. Interestingly, for film, this has never been the case. In fact, Pakistani cinema has always been built through the efforts of dedicated individuals who, despite the lack of structured support and resources, developed methods through which some sort of a film culture could develop. This culture was, in fact, undermined by the ...

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GI Joe 2: Another instance of propaganda against Pakistan

Last night I chose to watch the movie, GI Joe 2: Retaliation, hoping to get a dose of some much needed action and science fiction. However, this was not the case. A good hour and a half that felt like days later, I was praying for my electricity to crash so that I would have an excuse to get rid of the rest of the movie. But then again, what else can we expect from Hollywood, an industry that is running out of things to sell? The movie was far from light-hearted action. In fact, it should have been titled ‘Propaganda’. This ...

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Ghanchakkar versus Raanjhanaa: Is our censor board confused?

It’s not every day that we, journalists, get enough time to spare for a day out at the movies. So, when I finally got the opportunity to watch Ghanchakkar (not really top on my list) with a group of friends, there existed a moment of sheer excitement, more so because after weeks of working tirelessly, I could just relax on the business-class lookalike luxury chairs at Cinepax’s Gold Screen hall and enjoy a movie to its fullest. Now, for those of you who haven’t watched the movie yet, Ghanchakkar is a far cry from Bollywood’s masala, borrowed-from-the-south potboilers like Dabangg ...

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Did the new IT Minister really threaten to ban Google in Pakistan?

There is a lot of hype on the social media about a report that the new Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rahman Khan, allegedly threatened that Google will be banned if it does not remove the blasphemous videos from Google-owned YouTube. Well, I am not a journalist but as a concerned ICT professional, I tried to authenticate this news from different sources. So far I have not been able to find any confirmation. However an outright denial is also missing. But to be fair, the little that I know of the Minister (and I must admit that it is very little), ...

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Google should ban Pakistan

For a journalist, perhaps nothing is a greater violation of human rights than the denial of access to information. In the case of Pakistan versus YouTube, I think the government’s nine month ban on Google’s video-sharing website is really the limit of regressive and, in the eyes of any global citizen who accepts the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, unethical and illegal behaviour. I hold out no hope of sanity or assistance from the new government in this case. It is clear that in a country as fragmented along the lines of ‘haves’ versus the ‘have-nots’, ‘extremists’ versus ‘the rest’, the ban ...

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