Islamabad, March 30, 2012: When the Government of Pakistan’s recent plans to initiate a mega countrywide Internet Filtering Project surfaced, Bytes for All, Pakistan initiated a major campaign protesting this unconstitutional decision, which is against civil liberties and democratic principles. Our protests were supported and amplified by similar national and international human rights organizations and concerned citizens, who joined in and demanded the restoration of unconditional internet freedom in the country. These protests led to the release of the much appreciated news item hinting towards the shelving and cancellation of internet filtering plans in Pakistan.
Bytes for All, Pakistan maintained a cautious stance on this news, anticipating a proper press release announcement from the Ministry of IT, while continuing the campaign. Disappointingly, to date, no official statement has been released by the government, making the citizens suspect that the news item was a strategic move to put an end to the raging protests.
In the recent past, every apparent victory of the civil society in keeping the internet and freedom of expression in the country free from all shackles has been temporary. The only constant that has been observed is the continuing reinterpretation of vague terms & reasons such as ‘national security’ and ‘religious morality’ to serve interests of certain bigoted groups.
It is high time that the government cleared its position in proper details regarding its stance on freedom of expression and unrestricted access to information through the internet. We also demand that the state clarifies its stance on global benchmarks of freedom of expression and right to information as a basic human right.
Bytes for All, Pakistan demand that the government justifies its claims at being sincere to uphold the democratic principles and global human rights standards in the country. We believe that this can only be done by maintaining transparency & openness, and most of all refrain from all anti-democracy initiatives that trample upon basic human rights of the citizens.
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Note to Editors:
About Bytes for All, Pakistan
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
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