Facebook blocks live streaming of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation for highlighting Kashmir atrocities

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(Web Desk) – Facebook has blocked live streaming of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation’s (PBC) news bulletins for “raising voice against continued atrocities, curfew and military lockdown in Indian occupied Kashmir,” Radio Pakistan reported on Monday.

However, it further reported that on the directives of News Director, temporary alternate arrangements have been made to continue live streaming of Radio Pakistan’s bulletins on YouTube.

The posts in questions, screenshots of which have been uploaded to Radio Pakistan’s website, were news stories about the death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in July and the curfew imposed after the death of Zakir Musa, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, in May.

Importantly, Twitter has also been recently widely criticised after rights activists voiced serious concerns over the removal of hundreds of thousands of tweets which were critical of the Indian government’s policies in occupied Kashmir, Al Jazeera had reported in October.

According to the Al Jazeera report, a study by a media watchdog had revealed that nearly one million tweets had been removed since 2017.

“The micro-blogging site has been accused of suppressing freedom of expression in Kashmir after a study by the media watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), revealed that nearly one million tweets have been removed since 2017,” it had pointed out.

More accounts were withheld in India in the second half of 2018 than in the rest of the world combined, according to Twitter’s transparency reports.

The Muslim-majority region has been under a security lockdown and near-total communication blackout since August 5, when New Delhi scrapped Article 370 of the constitution, which granted Kashmir a measure of autonomy.

In August, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, through his personal Twitter account, had said that Pakistani authorities have taken up with Twitter and Facebook the alleged suspension of Pakistani social media accounts posting in support of Kashmir.

“Pakistan authorities have taken up the case with Twitter and Facebook against suspending Pakistani accounts for posting in support of Kashmir. Indian staff at their regional headquarters is the reason,” he had stated.

He had also invited social media users to share information about accounts that have been suspended. Mr Ghafoor’s statement had come as #StopSuspendingPakistanis was trending on Twitter in Pakistan.

‘Pakistan needs to get more self-reliant

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday termed the blocking of live streaming of Radio Pakistan’s news bulletins by Facebook “violation of a basic human right”.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad after inaugurating a photographic exhibition in connection with birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr Firdous stated that the government would make efforts for restoration of the live streaming of Radio Pakistan s news on Facebook.

Importantly, she outlined that Pakistan has to move away from international [social media] platforms in order to become more self-reliant.

Talking about intense situation in occupied Kashmir, she said: “As we have seen, every time we try to highlight human rights violations on social media platforms, such as Facebook, the accounts are suspended”.

“We have raised our voices against this before and will do so again in the future and will have those accounts restored,” she mentioned.

She said stubborn India has been destroying peace of the region by taking aggressive steps.

“New Delhi is exploiting basic human rights in occupied Kashmir as innocent Kashmiri people are being deprived of their religious, political and constitutional rights.”

She said Quaid-e-Azam had already predicted Hindutava based ideology of India and today whatever has been happening in India, “is a testimony to his two-nation theory.”

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