Pakistan authorities ban Skype, WhatsApp

Authorities in Pakistan's southern Sindh province Thursday banned Skype, WhatsApp and Viber to facilitate security operations, triggering angry reactions from numerous users of the instant messaging applications.

The decision to enforce the ban for three months was made at a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to review the law and order situation.

Following the meeting, provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced a ban on use of Skype, WhatsApp, Tango and Viber. "Terrorists and criminal elements are using these networks to communicate after the targeted operation was launched (against them)," he said.

Sindh's Home Secretary will contact Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to have these applications banned in the province. According to Memon, the Sindh government would contact the federal government to ensure that illegal SIMs too are shut down.

Memon said the brandishing of weapons too had been banned and an operation will be conducted against individuals possessing illegal weapons.

Many people took to social networking sites to vent their anger over the ban.

Sharmila Farooqi, a leader of PPP that rules Sindh, tweeted it was a small price to pay for security. "If we can cleanse (Karachi) from criminals. Back to trunk calls, telegraph and chitthi for 3 months!" she tweeted.

Pak rules against death penalty

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has scrapped plans to reinstate the death penalty, the government said Thursday, following threats by Taliban to step up attacks in retaliation. "Pakistan has decided to continue with moratorium on capital punishment since the government is aware of its international commitments," Omar Hamid Khan, a ministry spokesman, said. PTI

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