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Pakistan, censorship and civil society

June 10, 2010

Social networking mediums are a large part of the dissemination of philanthropic projects. It’s how a lot of organizations get their names out into the mainstream. They utilize Youtube videos, Facebook groups, Twitter updates, Flickr photo-blogs, and a variety of other social networking ways to get their names out there. These networking methods are easy, simple, accessible to the masses — but most importantly, they are efficient.

So what does it mean that the Pakistani authorities are banning certain social networking sites — including Youtube and various other popular social sites including pages on Wikipedia and Flickr? It means that the good stuff is getting weeded out with the bad stuff.

It’s a pretty sad state when the government can control such wide limitations of Internet access (I used to think bandwidth limiting was bad enough!). Which just goes to show that even in this modern age when we’re all duped into thinking that a keyboard and an Internet connection is the best way of reaching people, sometimes it really can’t compete with a good ol’ pen-and-paper and word-of-mouth.

Philanthropy is something that starts from the home and hearth. It’s not something that spontaneously comes together through a few fiber-optic cables and satellite connections. It starts with the dedication of individuals and the values of their heart.  The philanthropic sector will certainly continue to grow in Pakistan despite government censorship, but it only adds to the challenges of the country’s civil society sector.

For more on Pakistan and civil society law, check out the International Journal of Civil Society Law and the ICCSL newsletter, and this report by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy.

– Nancy Gong

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