The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blogs battle censorship

New Delhi, Nov. 5: This is one battle that President Pervez Musharraf was not prepared for.

Armed with BlackBerrys, laptops, mobile phones and the Internet, human rights activists and ordinary citizens have found a way to fight the President’s draconian rule.

From rights activist Asma Jahangir’s emailed statement, where she has severely criticised Musharraf, to senior supreme court advocate Aitzaz Ahsan, who coordinated protests by lawyers in Pakistan today from the toilet of a police station, cyber protesters are defying all rules of censorship.

War-time strategy is being planned quietly, away from the prying eyes of Musharraf’s men on social networking sites such as Facebook and Orkut.

In an effort to outsmart the President, tech-savvy Pakistanis are posting details such as “meet closer to Press Club… then walk together to the Press Club in groups of 4”.

“A number of bloggers are stepping out of their cosy homes and terminals to match their thoughts with actual deeds in terms of political activism,” said T, an active blogger.

“While the number remains very small, because these are opinion leaders in some sense, they are more effective than their numbers.”

Going beyond coordinating protests, Facebook also offers a home-made remedy on how to survive a tear gas attack. The ingredients include a bottle of tap water, an onion and a thick towel. The blogger suggests that “when tear-gassed, wet towel, bite down upon the onion and wrap towel around face”.

Most Indians will be glad to know that Mahatma Gandhi is not forgotten in Pakistan even though his lessons are now being transmitted through blogs instead of speeches.

The crackdown on the media and judiciary may be brutal but it will be difficult for Musharraf to eliminate this determined group of dissenters.

“The government is still not tech-savvy enough to block the blogs,” said T.

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