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CIA Complaint Results In Shutting Down A Pakistani Website

Posted by yourpakistan on January 10, 2011


PakNationalists.com says it has been formally warned to remove an article on CIA’s secret war inside Pakistan from its website that mentions the name of CIA’s former top spy in Islamabad. The American Internet company that hosts the website on its servers in the United States has complied and told the Pakistani website that the decision is ‘not up for debate.” The irony is that CIA leaves out American and British newspapers and websites that ran the story and targets a Pakistani site critical of US policies.

One of Pakistan’s premier online news websites, PakNationalists.com was pulled off the Internet in the first week of 2011 after the US-based hosting company said the site must remove an article mentioning the name of Mr. Jonathan Banks, CIA’s former Islamabad station chief who escaped from Pakistan last month to avoid a murder trial linked to CIA’s secret war inside the country.

The US-based hosting company, GoDaddy.com, said in a written statement sent to the management of PakNationalists.com in Islamabad that the Pakistani website must remove an article titled, ‘CIA Station Chief In Islamabad Sued For Murder And Terrorism.’ [Click here to see an old snapshot of the article from Google cache. Or click here to read the article on another website]

In its strongly worded statement, the American company warned, “We ask that you either remove the content […] or move your” website to another Internet hosting provider.

On 3 January, the American company gave the Pakistani website 48 hours to comply, and pulled the site down on 5 January.

“Please be aware that this decision [to remove the content] is final, and is not up for debate,” said an email by the Abuse Department at GoDaddy.com

WHY ONLY TARGET A PAKISTANI SITE?

The strange aspect of the story is that hundreds of newspapers and websites covered this story worldwide, including in the United States. But only a Pakistani website, PakNationalists/AhmedQuraishi.com, is being targeted.

UK’s the Guardian newspaper, whose online version is accessible in the United States, published the story on Dec. 17 along with the full name and designation of Mr. Banks.

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, runs a dedicated page titled Jonathan Banks (CIA officer) but no one has shut down Wikipedia.

UK’s Channel 4 reported CIA station chief’s name but its broadcast and website are accessible from the US.

Another US-based website, running an editorial titled, The Great Escape Of Jonathan Banks, has not been asked to shut down or remove the top spy’s name.

It is obvious that PakNationalists.com is the target.

WHY US?

“We inquired as to who could have made this complaint,” said Gulpari Nazish Mehsud, a young Pakistani who sees herself as a ‘Pakistani nationalist’ and helps manage the website as a volunteer. “The US company won’t give us a name, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess who is making the complaint.”

CIA and the US government have requested the mainstream US media not to print Mr. Banks’ name, although it is all over the world media.

Pakistani nationalism has been on the rise in Pakistan since 2007, when Pakistanis complained that the US and its British ally and their media indulged in the worst demonization campaign against Pakistan as a pressure tactic to squeeze strategic concessions out of the nuclear-armed nation.

The PakNationalists group began in 2007 with four persons. Today, it boasts close to 5,000 members from different parts of Pakistan. “Mostly young and educated Pakistanis, and intensely nationalistic,” said Mehsud.

PakNationalists.com is probably one of the earliest online news sites that monitored in detail the many aspects of the US double game against Pakistan in Afghanistan.

“We’ve been under pressure before,” said Ahmed Quraishi, one of the founders of PakNationalists.com as an online forum for Pakistani nationalists. “In 2007, a US diplomat in Islamabad fed a senior Washington Post columnist this information that we’re somehow ISI,” he said, adding “Anyone in Pakistan who defends this country’s legitimate rights is somehow ISI. Maybe that’s why they are harassing us now.”

PakNationalists.com is down until further notice.

 

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