Pakistan YouTube incident adds to international outage

After a two hour stretch yesterday of refusing service to YouTube users across the globe, the Google-owned site said Pakistan is to blame.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered ISPs to re-route traffic away from a specific YouTube URL pointing to a trailer for Dutch Politician Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic video.

Wilders' video was widely anticipated to incite unrest among the Muslim community abroad, as the far right-wing politician is an outspoken anti-Islamist. Wilders told the BBC his film shows that the Koran is an inspiration for murder. Iran has already put pressure on the Netherlands to ban the film's release.


In YouTube's official statement regarding the two-hour outage, Pakistan was determined to be the source of "erroneous Internet Protocols" to which traffic was being routed. Though in the statement, YouTube does not detail exactly what happened, analysts say Pakistan's faulty route map somehow leaked and was adopted by PCCW, a major Asian telco. PCCW then broadcast the new route, and routers throughout much of the world changed their route maps accordingly, sending everyone in the wrong direction.

Preventative content blocking is not uncommon on the video site, as a result of other nations that have deemed videos harmful. China found some to be subversive, Iran found some immoral, Turkey found one in particular to have illegally insulted the name and image of its founding father Ataturk, Morocco determined some to be too critical of its treatment of Western Saharan peoples, Brazil found some to be embarrassing to public figures, and Thailand found one to be too critical of King Bhumbiol Adulyadej.

However, due to the inflammatory nature of Wilders' video and the offense to Muslims worldwide, some are questioning whether this was actually a simple mistake in blocking, or a premeditated move by Islamic extremists.

Pakistan has felt the effects of unfavorable media coverage since the Kargil Conflict in the late 1990s, a battle with the Indian military in Jammu and Kashmir. Due to the growing power of the Internet and media there at that time, some analysts believe the larger and more credible Indian media helped the country garner worldwide support, and defame Pakistan. Former prime minister -- and recent assassination victim -- Benazir Bhutto spoke in 1999, calling Kargil "Pakistan's Biggest Blunder."

Shortly after this, Pervez Musharraf took over as the country's leader. Early in his tenure, Musharraf spoke out against extremism and terrorism, pledged to battle islamic extremism within Pakistan, and took measures to change the country's unstable political hierarchy.

Of these, the elections in 2007 were viewed as a move by the country toward Democracy. "Islam and democracy are fully incompatible," Geert Wilders told The Washington Post in 2005. "They will never be compatible -- not today, and not in a million years."

A month after Musharraf's election, he declared a state of emergency due to Islamist militants and interference from the judiciary. He ordered the arrest of political dissidents, activists, lawyers and supreme court justices, and shut down all private television stations.

After resigning from his military position to act as a civilian leader, Musharraf's PML-Q party lost control of Parliament, one senior opposition leader called for the president to step down.

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