PAKISTAN

Zardari trying to smother “Shut up!” outburst video?

Numerous Web users in Pakistan reported problems in trying to access YouTube on Sunday evening. When the website returned an hour later, one video had mysteriously disappeared - a clip showing President Asif Ali Zardari shouting "Shut up!" at a rally crowd. Read more and see the video...

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Numerous Web users in Pakistan reported problems in trying to access YouTube on Sunday evening. When the website returned an hour later, one video had mysteriously disappeared - a clip showing President Asif Ali Zardari shouting "Shut up!" at a rally crowd.

The incident having gone unreported in Pakistan, we were unable to verify the exact date and location of the rally. It is thought that the footage was recorded in mid-January when Zardari staged exceptional (he seldom leaves the high-security presidency) rallies in the Sindh province (southeast) and Punjab province (east). Posted online at the end of January, the video had been watched around 45,000 times by the time it was blocked on the evening of Sunday Feb. 7.  

"What happened to this democracy..." Zardari is in the midst of explaining, when he turns on someone in the crowd. Video posted by (among others) "c1ickme3" on Jan. 30 2010. 

“This order probably came from either the presidency itself or a minister high up”

One of our Observers, dentist Awab Alvi from Karachi, was monitoring the situation on YouTube on Sunday.

It initially started off with a simple white page saying: ‘This site is restricted' (see below). Subsequent reports submitted on Herdict Web show the inaccessibility lasted for about an hour but then everything recovered back to normal.

It was then noticed that the crackdown by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was on this one particular video. The clip had been posted about 25 times, and all of the versions were inaccessible, so it was no coincidence.

All traffic in and out of the country goes through the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority - they can filter whatever they want up to two years back. The authority takes orders from the government, which means that this one in particular probably came from either the presidency itself or a high-ranking minister.

This government will continue to be edgy on a number of issues as they get pushed further into a corner. With the Supreme Court having ruled out the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [which granted politicians and officials amnesty from a number of charges], they are left technically ineligible to occupy these high-level positions. There's no doubt that, after all the bad press resulting from the NRO, the president and his core group must be feeling the heat. This outburst is a direct result of that."

 

Screengrab of the blocked site, posted by one of Observers in Pakistan, Huma Imitaz, on her blog, "The World Has Stopped Spinning".