Reopening YouTube: Filtering all material on net not possible, NA told

PPP-led govt blocked Youtube after protests erupted against blasphemous movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ uploaded on site.

Our Correspondent March 25, 2014
PPP-led govt blocked Youtube after protests erupted against blasphemous movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ uploaded on site. DESIGN: ANUSHAY FURQAN

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday conceded before the National Assembly that its technical teams had failed to evolve any mechanism that could guarantee to filter material considered ‘objectionable’ on the net.

Without giving any timeframe to open Youtube, which was banned in Pakistan in September 2012, the government said it had blocked 31,819 objectionable links on internet so far. However it had found no mechanism that could ensure filtering 100% objectionable material.

“There is no way to block 100% objectionable material on the internet,” minister in-charge for cabinet secretariat said in his written reply to a question seeking timeframe to open Youtube.

Pakistan Peoples Party-led government blocked Youtube after protests erupted against a blasphemous movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ uploaded on the social video sharing site.

In-charge minister Raja Javed Ikhas informed the house that the Ministry of Information Technology approached the management of Google and Facebook in September 13, 2012.

“But Google refused to block the blasphemous move link/URLs because Pakistan did not have any Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. However, the management of Facebook agreed to block website links,” he added.

Railways matters

Despite claims by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s government that it will soon turn around Pakistan Railways (PR), the magnitude of the losses do not seem to be coming down.

The figures of losses presented in the National Assembly show that during the ongoing financial year the organisation suffered Rs17.28 billion losses till February 2014. These losses were likely to reach Rs29 billion by the end of financial year ending June 30.

Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq told the house that the PR suffered Rs20.15 billion losses during 2009-10. It lost Rs26.9 billion during 2010-11, Rs29.34 billion during 2011-12 and Rs30.50 billion during 2012-13.

The minister said his plans to revive the PR focused on freight services, which would have around 45 locomotives within next few years. The minister, however, did not give any cutoff date to achieve breakeven point for organization, which according to him has been running on loss for the past 40 years.

Thar to have an airport

In reply to a question, the government informed the house it was planning to construct an airport in Methi, Thar –  the desert region of Sindh where drought affected thousands of inhabitants.

Without giving any further details, the minister said land had been acquired and a boundary wall was being constructed to secure the site for the proposed airport.

“The new airports terminal buildings are to be constructed in Gwadar as well as Peshawar and Quetta. An international airport is already under construction in Islamabad,” he added.

Opposition meeting

National Assembly’s Leader of Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah has called a meeting of opposition parties today (Tuesday) to formulate joint strategy for the new session that has started on Monday.


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