The United States has condemned as “irresponsible” the leak of 90,000 military records, saying publication could threaten national security. The documents released by the Wikileaks website include details of killings of Afghan civilians unreported until now. Three news organisations had advance access to the records, which also show Nato concerns that Pakistan and Iran are helping the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan has denied claims its intelligence agency backed the Taliban. In a statement, US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones said such classified information “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk”. He said the documents covered the period from 2004 to 2009, before President Obama “announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan”. The huge cache of classified papers – described as one of the biggest leaks in US military history – was given to the New York Times, the Guardian and the German news magazine, Der Spiegel. Pakistan denied claims its intelligence agency, the ISI, backed the Taliban in the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington said the “unprocessed” reports did “not reflect the current onground realities”.
Pakistan has blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube indefinitely in a bid to contain “blasphemous” material, officials said on Thursday. The blockade came after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed Internet service providers to block access to social network site Facebook indefinitely on Wednesday because of an online competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad. Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims. Wahaj-us-Siraj, the CEO of Nayatel, an Internet service provider, said the PTA issued an order late on Wednesday seeking an “immediate” block on YouTube, which is owned Internet giant Google. YouTube was also blocked in the Muslim country in 2007 for about a year for what Pakistan called un-Islamic videos. Some other websites, including Wikipedia and Flickr, have been inaccessible in Pakistan since Wednesday night. But the authority’s spokesman said those sites had been blocked for technical reasons and no orders had been issued against them.
Pakistan pulled the plug on Facebook Wednesday, angered by its hosting of a “blasphemous” competition to draw the best portrait of the Prophet Mohamed. Within hours of the ruling from the High Court in Lahore, attempts to update statuses and upload photographs failed across the country as internet service providers hastened into compliance. Most browser screens perfunctorily informed users that they were “unable to find” the website; others were more specific, citing the court ruling and adding that “access would remain blocked till 31 May 2010 or further orders”. At the heart of the controversial shutdown is the “Everybody Draw Mohamed Day!” page. Organisers were asking people to draw their image of Mohamed – an online response to violent threats made against a Danish newspaper that published caricatures of Islam’s Prophet in 2006 and more recently against the creators of South Park over their depiction of the Prophet in a bear suit. The government did not oppose the court ruling. Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs, said that the ban was temporary. It is set to be lifted at the end of the month. The minister also floated the idea of a conference of Muslim countries to resolve how to prevent future publication of the “offensive” cartoons.