The telecommunication authorities are claiming in Pakistan that YouTube was blocked for featuring allegedly blasphemous documentaries. While this move if triggered by this motive is as foolish as burning an entire library just because on a page of one of the books someone has scribbled a couple of words against you, it is far from truth. Actually Musharraf is a very self centered and insecure man these days and has recently learned from his sycophants that YouTube carries many videos critical of his government especially his torture on lawyers and political captives and since during this campaign technology played critical role in influencing people he wants to block out every kind of criticism. Again many citizens have reportedly uploaded video clips showing rigging under process in the constituencies where his allies either won or managed to dilute the verdict. There is distant though connected evidence why this must be true.
The day when the government decided to block YouTube two things happened. First AAJ TV brought back on air two of its anchors banned by Musharraf. The channel was immediately blocked by the satellite operator. The crime of the two anchors (Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas) was only to doubt Musharraf’s previous claims thinking out loud on television. Musharraf’s this ban has affected many of Pakistan’s leading anchors and opinion leaders of which I am aware of Dr Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Asma Sherazi and Kashif Abbasi apart from the above two.
The second thing that happened was the airing of an investigative report by Geo television which showed footage of rigging in the constituencies of Musharraf loyalists made through hidden camera. This too has reportedly not gone down well with Musharraf. Since in the past the regime also tried to block google’s weblog hosting service blogger.com in the name of countering blasphemy, the ban on YouTube does not seem anything different. But Musharraf’s toadies are not happy with Pakistani blogs and cable channels too. So a similar ban may follow on these outlets too unless the west pressures him not to do so. This episode however has exposed Musharraf’s liberal credentials and committment to fighting extremism yet again.