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Pakistan Tries to Block Porn Web Sites

April 7, 2003

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Pakistani authorities said Sunday they’ve blocked 1,800 Web sites in a crackdown on Internet pornography in this deeply conservative Muslim country.

But it’s not proving to be easy.

``Curbing porn sites is as difficult as blocking the wind,″ said Web engineer Farhan Parpia, of the state-owned telecommunications company. ``You block one, and dozens more come up like mushrooms.″

Under pressure from powerful religious parties, Owais Leghari, the information technology minister, last month ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Co. Ltd. to filter porn sites. Filtering began 10 days ago, said Ather Javed Sufi, a company spokesman.

He said 1,800 sites had been blocked by Sunday. The company regulates private Internet service providers who use its lines.

When Internet users click on a blocked site, they get a reply that the site was not found or the query was invalid.

``This is one good move on the part of the present government. The young generation should be saved from sinking neck-deep in the filth of pornography and vulgarity,″ said Hafiz Muhammad Taqi, a leader of the six-member political alliance of religious parties known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or United Action Forum.

The alliance made strong gains in national elections last October, campaigning for Islamic laws in Pakistan and opposing what it deemed corrupting Western influences. In Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier province where the alliance took power, billboards of films with scantily clad women were torn down.

Some Internet users seemed undeterred by the blocked sites, and said they were ready for the challenge of finding new ones.

Fourteen-year-old Ghayur Ahmed said: ``How can the government deprive us from having fun at least through Web sites?″

``There are tens of thousands of such sites,″ he said Sunday, sitting in an Internet cafe in Karachi. ``Will they be able to block all?″

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