Toronto Sun website blocked in Pakistan: Report

Published: February 8, 2013

Canadian English daily Toronto Sun. PHOTO: torontosun.com

The Toronto Sun newspaper’s website is no longer accessible in Pakistan.

The English daily is a tabloid newspaper known for what it sees as a populist conservative editorial stance. It circulates about 143,475 copies daily.

It draws a relatively small readership from Pakistan. It reports that, “Up until January 16 this year the Toronto Sun had recorded 63, 814 visits in the 12 months to that date in Pakistan. Then nothing from January 17 onwards except a sole visit on January 19.”

Attempts by The Express Tribune to access the site were unsuccessful with the requests returning an “118 connection timed out” error.

Social media users in Pakistan reported that they too were unable to access the website.

The paper, citing possible explanations for the lack of access, said, “After all, this [Pakistan] is a military administration that in the past has shown scant regard for basic values of democracy, rule of law, accountability and a host of other principles we here in Canada take for granted.”

The story added that the tabloid had extensively covered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan’s detention at Toronto Pearson International Airport last October.

Pakistani-Canadian columnist Tarek Fatah, an unsparing critic of Pakistan who writes for the Toronto Sun, expressed in his own words that the move ”is definitely politically motivated and it does no credit to the current administration in the national capital Islamabad.”

Fatah further said, “I have had it confirmed for me by an extremely senior member of the government. I have the tweet where he outlined why the firewall has been imposed.”

“The tweet says, when asked why the Sun has been blocked: ‘Your criticism and exposure of Fauji-Jihadi shenenigans. Decision from Aabpara.’”

Fatah interpreted this tweet as a nod towards the military. He added, “That clearly shows that this banning decision has been made by the Pakistan military. It is they who really run Pakistan.”

Pakistan High Commission statement

The Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa neither confirmed nor denied the censorship of the website, Toronto Sun reported. It added that the Pakistan press counsel would make a statement on February 4.

Press consul Nazia Khalid, while speaking to The Express Tribune, denied any such planned statement. She said a correspondent from the Toronto Sun had contacted her to inquire about their website possibly being banned in Pakistan, but she replied that she had no information on it.

Khalid further added that, “The government of Pakistan wouldn’t do such a thing.”

However, when pressed, she said she could neither confirm nor deny whether the site had been blocked in Pakistan. 

PTA firewalls

The PTA has become increasingly aggressive in blocking websites in the country. The entire website of Rolling Stone, a pop-culture and politics magazine, has been blocked since July 2011. The alleged reason behind the ban was a story on Pakistan’s “insane military spending” by Rolling Stone blogger Matt Taibbi.

A PTA spokesperson confirmed that Rolling Stone blocked but said he did not know why it had been done so.

The popular video sharing website YouTube has been blocked since September 17, 2012 in efforts to block access to sacrilegious film Innocence of Muslims after violent protests erupted across the Muslim world.

Last month interior minister Rehman Malik hinted that the Pakistani government is working implementing a new internet filter for blocking blasphemous or offensive material, after which YouTube would be unblocked.

He tweeted:

“YouTube will be unblocked only after the installation of efficient filter. PTA /MoIT to install the said filter in a week. PTA to act fast.”

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Reader Comments (51)

  • Uzair
    Feb 8, 2013 - 9:42PM

    Here’s a tip to the interior ministry, malik rehman, the government of pakistan, and all those who comprise the mullahcratic islamic republic of Pakistan: Please ban talking, dreaming, writing, and while you are at it, thinking as well. After all “blasphemous” thoughts and words are the root cause of our not progressing and the lack of food and overpopulation and illness and everything else.

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  • secularsheet
    Feb 8, 2013 - 9:43PM

    the whole and sole reason: Mr Tarek fatah

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  • Shaami
    Feb 8, 2013 - 9:50PM

    I know Tarek Fateh very well and he is the reason for this website to be blocked. He is the new attention seeker now a days According to Tarek Fateh every problem in this world is only because of Islam and because of Islamophobics like Tarek Fateh Toronto Sun have to be blocked. There must be a limit to blame one community and one religion for all the problems of the world.

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  • Feb 8, 2013 - 9:52PM

    @secularsheet

    That is a good enough reason. This guy is, among other horrible things, openly anti-Pakistan.

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  • DLX Area 1
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:09PM

    Truth hurts. Doesn’t it? Tarek Fatah, I love you, man.

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  • Fahad Raza
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:15PM

    OMG.. Toronto.. What…??

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  • Cool Dude
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:35PM

    Good job PTA !!!

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  • Ilyad
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:43PM

    @Uzair: … at least not ban dreaming, because people who dream are actually asleep so no reason they could cause or get into trouble.

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  • Saeed
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:52PM

    This Tariq Fateh is an attention seeking, odious character. Good riddance to that rag, it is not worth wasting time on. PTA has done everyone a great favour we should thank them for sparing us the rubbish it publishes, free speech notwithstanding.

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  • Falcon
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:57PM

    Tarek Fateh loves limelight…that is his problem…in his worldview, the whole world circumabulates him…back to the point…I am surprised how they are they linking IK’s incident with all this since that event occurred months ago.

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  • Mj
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:01PM

    @Shaami:

    You do realize that attempting to censor legitimate criticism of established institutions and clergy only further legitimizes his concerns.

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  • doom
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:09PM

    I can access Youtube and Rollingstone via proxy. I think many Indian news sites are blocked too, which I can also access via proxy. I can also access movie streaming sites blocked due to pornographic movies being there too.

    Everything but not this Toronto Sun (whatever that is; never heard of it) is accesible. It seems to me it might just be a problem with the website rather than a ban.

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  • scotchpak
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:10PM

    If Pakistanis in Toronto cancel subscriptions to Toronto sun that would mean something. Otherwise everyone know the worth of this rag. They (TS) have been promoting this Fatah saab for quite sometime now. This fellow is known for inflammatory remark about everyone.

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  • Genghis Khan
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:10PM

    Mr Tarek fatah
    You are a hero…

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  • thor
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:11PM

    truth hurts..

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  • Khan Jr
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:16PM

    Obviously anything against the GHQ is near blasphemy and against our ‘national interest’ and will be banned as long as there is deniability (ie. we can lie barefaced about it and brazenly get away with it!)

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  • pakistan
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:25PM

    Toronto sun is no loyalist to pakistan and many a times publish anti state things therefore if the government has banned it there is nothing wrong with it

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  • kaalchakra
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:35PM

    This is the time to be focusing on BUILDING pakistan, instead of wasting precious time on reading bigoted tabloids like the Toronto Sun. Please don’t make a mountain of a molehill and concentrate energies on something more constructive. Turning every thing into an opportunity for bashing Pakistan or Pakistani authorities will do no one any good.

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  • gp65
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:35PM

    @doom: “Everything but not this Toronto Sun (whatever that is; never heard of it) is accesible. It seems to me it might just be a problem with the website rather than a ban.”

    Site accessible from US.

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  • Anonymous
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:38PM

    Use coral cache and thanks me later http://www.torontosun.com.nyud.net/

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  • Umer
    Feb 8, 2013 - 11:50PM

    If you can’t beat them ban them.

    What Tarek Fatah said is obviously irrefutable hence the only option left for Taliban Emarat Pakistan is to ban as always.

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  • Feb 8, 2013 - 11:50PM

    @doom:
    very nice, u r genious

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  • Khan
    Feb 9, 2013 - 12:15AM

    Mr Tarek Fatah and Toronto Sun got 15 minutes of fame. Never heard of them before. Probably their own doing.

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 12:23AM

    PTA can do anything anytime.

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  • DilliNiwasi
    Feb 9, 2013 - 12:51AM

    @Shaami: Please define what the limit should be. IN Pakistan, there is no limit to all the monstorities !!

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  • Mj
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:01AM

    @shahid:

    Err…you might want to read about a few poets and poetesses who were ‘eliminated’ at apostle’s command. Might change your cherished worldview.

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  • Shumaila
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:17AM

    Tarek Fatah’s sponsership value will rise high after such ban!
    all the anti-east ‘Think Tanks’ will call him to inaugurate their launches, galas, carnivals etc!
    Good for him!

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 1:17AM

    Taek Fatheh is to Pakistan as Arundhati roy is to India. But India does not ban Ms Roy’s, the darling of Pakistanis worldwide, coloumns book(s) or articles etc.

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 1:20AM

    This is ridiculous. It justifies critics who claim Pak is an oppressive state, which sadly seems to be the case. I’m no fan of Tarek Fatah and find him crude; pandering to colonialist right-wing Islamophobes. Despite my dislike of him and the Sun, I would not lazily or stupidly advocate censorship of their negative criticism, which in the case of Pak is mostly correct. Its a dangerous and outrageous precedent. Not ‘blasphemy’ but criticism of non-religious sacred cows such as the Pak govt and military by a disliked overseas citizen in a foreign newspaper. It’s intolerant nationalist over-reach that has nothing to do with religion. Who’s next? Kamran Shafi? Murtaza Haider? When a US govt/military liberal progressive Matt Taibbi is also blocked by Pak, NOT the US, and radical extremist websites are untouched (instead a minority website that highlights genocide is blocked), there is no more denying the rights abuses and hypocrisy by the Pak state.

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  • Sikander
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:23AM

    Ban Internet..problem solved.

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  • Haider
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:25AM

    i can’t access this website in Abu Dhabi as well…

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  • daactar
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:29AM

    okay so i didnt even know there was a website named toronto sun. on top of that there exists an alien in this world called tarek fateh who gets paid his monthly dollars by spewing anti pakistan rhetoric! its good that its blocked!i didnt want to read his stupidity anyway

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  • kaalchakra
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:33AM

    MJ, wow! So we are now to question the Apostle of Peace! These so-called poets and poetesses were not real poets and poetesses but agents of fitna. I am glad no one can read them today.

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 1:40AM

    @Shaami: Thank you Shaami sahib, I love you too :-)

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  • Abhishek
    Feb 9, 2013 - 1:58AM

    @Shaami:
    Ofcourse, the jews are to be blamed or the hindus

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  • Terry
    Feb 9, 2013 - 2:52AM

    Likes of Tareq Fatah knows that best way to gain cheap and quick publicity is to malign a country and the religion in a islamicphobic environment and when the other side reacts you are a instant hero. And he is taking full advantage of that.

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  • Baloch Insafian
    Feb 9, 2013 - 4:37AM

    Who is Tarek Fatah??

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 4:58AM

    Tarek Fatah has posted some very incendiary and ethnically derogatory comments about certain ethnic groups in Pakistan, not to mention argued that Pakistan should cease to exists as a nation constantly – that kind of commentary is probably the reason behind the Sun being blocked.

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  • Jim
    Feb 9, 2013 - 4:58AM

    Eventually one day Pakistan will ban itself. That will be fun.

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  • Spud
    Feb 9, 2013 - 5:19AM

    @Uzair: You forgot to include singing, dancing drinking coffee in the list.

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  • Adil Uddin
    Feb 9, 2013 - 6:19AM

    @Baloch Insafian:

    Who is Tarek Fatah??

    Someone who actually was a part of student politics and left wing Socialism there in Pakistan,in other words a member of NSF. But later on he would immigrate to Canada,a nation which employs Capitalist policies just like its neighbour USA. And afterwards,he would just gather attention by criticizing mainstream Islamic centres,scholars and speakers in North America.To be honest Tarek Fatah has got no respect among majority of Muslims living in Toronto and its suburbs,and he simply displayed cheapness of his character in Summer 2010 when he also participated in defaming Dr. Zakir Naik and getting him banned from entering Canada.

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  • Yumna
    Feb 9, 2013 - 8:22AM

    Prior to reading this article, I had no idea that there exists a website called Toronto Sun, or there exists a person called Tarek Fatah. But thanks to whoever banned this website, for bringing this to my attention and making this person a hero (exact opposite of what they intended to do). Not sure if it’s the government or not, but seriously these people who keep banning websites, just because they cannot handle an opinion different than theirs, need to get themselves educated! Seems like the only way to tackle a problem in Pakistan is to ban things, which we all should know by now is highly ineffective. And it sounds so funny every time something is banned because it tells us that they still haven’t learned their lesson.
    Oh and I do not even think what Mr. Fatah did is even a problem. Why are we as a nation so scared of opinions that are “different”. Why are we so blinded by what’s-been-taught-to-us-for-all-these-years? Why do we go against someone who challenges the prevalent ideas? Why do we have to be so dogmatic? WHY?

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  • Feroz
    Feb 9, 2013 - 8:50AM

    Pakistan, the Truth cannot be hidden from everybody forever.

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 9:21AM

    @secularsheet:
    @Shaami:
    @Antebellum:
    @DLX Area 1:

    The truth hurts those people whose bullcrap ends up onto their faces. Together with the Supreme Court, the Pakistan military is only institution that is doing its job.
    Hokay! They are getting a large chunk of the budget but they also have the guts to go ahead with their plans against the enemy.
    Hokay! Some members are corrupt like NLC generals, Musharraf, Zia, Yahya, Tiger Niazi, and the man who shot Liaquat Ali Khan. However, we can take cushion to the fact; they at least have their senses about them and are observing the prevailing situation in the civilian democracy. With a few caveats, the Pakistan military is a welcome augury in Pakistan.
    Hokay. Their plans for Afghanistan and the region are gradually falling into place. The West never wanted to listen and now to withdraw and bring their boys back safely after destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, they start cozying up to the Pakistan military. This has already led to a series of anti-Pakistan backlashes by the Indian army on the LOC.
    So, all you Pakistan haters start to malleate your NRA, MIC, assault rifle owners and Tarek Fatah who acts like a comedian trying to impress his ‘white masters’ so he can get cheap media publicity.

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  • Nitish
    Feb 9, 2013 - 10:50AM

    You pakistanis,When r you blocking access to TOI?Curious to know.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmad
    Feb 9, 2013 - 12:21PM

    @Khan:

    yeah maybe Tarek is a Mossad agent and is getting free publicity……from all this.

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  • Feb 9, 2013 - 6:48PM

    They’ve also blocked canoe.ca, a news and infotainment site owned by the same group than owns the Toronto Sun

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  • ex paki
    Feb 9, 2013 - 10:52PM

    @Sikander: Oye Bhai Sikanderaa, its not Internet only, its TV channels waghairaa waghairaa,
    so I suggest why not Rental Sahib ban the use of BIJLI too. Neither BAAANS aur na hi SNAKE.

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  • Rehan
    Feb 10, 2013 - 6:16AM

    I can’t access Toronto sun website in UK. You stupid people their website is downwind you are claiming that its banned!

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  • Shameema
    Feb 10, 2013 - 10:47PM

    Tariq Fatah is a self- loathing Muslim who seeks to gain attention and importance through his badly-written ill-informed articles. Banning him will only give more importance to this boring old has-been, long past his sell-by-date!!

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  • Shameema
    Feb 10, 2013 - 10:56PM

    At the University of Karachi, Tareq Fatah was busy shouting slogans against Capitalism and the policies of the USA. Today he sits there and criticises his onw people and community his flp- flops cannot be taken seriously.

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