Emergency Blogging

The news is full of what is going on in Pakistan.

One of the most obvious changes compared to the coup of 1999 (when Musharraf took over power in Pakistan) is the proliferation of cable channels, internet cafes and electronic devices, especially in the major cities like Karachi and Lahore. Despite the general's best efforts to crush political dissent by blacking out TV stations, blogging has provided a great outlet for concerned Pakistanis to post pictures, audio and video of arrests and police baton-charges; to share information about the arrests of human rights activists and lawyers; and to express their views which are otherwise being cut off from the mainstream media (although many newspapers are still managing to take a critical stance too.)

The small sliver of society with access to the internet is an elite, English and Urdu speaking group but it is also, in many places, exactly the same group which is being targeted by 'the Emergency': lawyers, academics, journalists and so on. One professor and human rights activist from an elite Lahore institution was even able to send news of his arrest via his Blackberry - his message was later posted up on a site. Pakistanis in Europe and the US and elsewhere in the international diaspora are also airing their views, protesting and using the web to find out what's going on inside the country. Take a look at Chapatimystery.com, Pakistaniat.com and Help-Pakistan.com.

Also check out the Don’t Block the Blog Campaign which is an older campaign which predates the Emergency -- working to keep ISP's out of politics and to protect the rights of bloggers in Pakistan; some were blocked for showing the controversial cartoon images of the Prophet in 2006.