Lahore (Web desk) – After political discussion website, sisat.pk vanished yesterday under mysterious circumstances, there was speculation in the media about the nature of the website’s disappearance. However, according to sources, it turns out that the website was taken down at the government’s behest by putting pressure on siasat.pk’s domain registrar. This is very unusual for even the Pakistani government to do.
siasat.pk is down is because our name servers were suspiciously removed from Nexus.pk – Just spoke to them and they have no idea who did it
— Adeel Habib (@adeel786) September 11, 2015
Usually when the Pakistani government is displeased with a website, its URL is sent to PTA. PTA has the technology and the resources to block websites, and after some bureaucratic paperwork they block them. However, when we talked to Spokesman PTA, Khurram Mehran, he said that PTA did not receive any instructions to block siasat.pk, similarly, Director FIA Islamabad, Inaam Ghani, also told our reporter that FIA did not receive any instructions to block siasat.pk nor did his department have any role in taking it down.
According to our sources, siasat.pk was shut down by removing name server information from the domain. This was done by their domain registrar, Nexus Technologies Islamabad, under pressure from authorities who wanted the website shut down ‘immediately’.
It was learned that siasat.pk was blocked due to its frequent anti government and pro PTI posts. This is the first time the government has used such means to take down a website. Legally this might fall into a grey area, as opposed to openly blocking the website via PTA under some pretext.
Sisat.pk hosts one of the largest online forum for political discussion in Pakistan. Gag on siasat.pk will be a big blow to freedom of press in Pakistan. As internet is becoming a phenomenon in Pakistan, the government seems eager to try to control it and make dissenting opinions harder to access. Previously Pakistani media has reported government’s attempts at acquiring and using mass surveillance technology and the technology to block specific urls centrally.