Activists and Citizen Journalists Use SMS in Pakistan

Posted by CorinneRamey on Nov 12, 2007

Bloggers, activists and organizers in Pakistan are using SMS - short test messages - to coordinate protests and send updates on the political situation since Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law on November 3. Only 12% of Pakistanis have access to the internet and therefore mobile phones are a particularly useful communication tool in the current media blackout, imposed since emergency rule was imposed. Bloggers in Pakistan report that November 3 had the "highest number" of SMS messages sent -- an average of about 10 per mobile phone.

The Aurat Foundation, a women's rights organization in Islamabad, has organized an SMS center to organize protests and send political updates. Members of the network "decided to circulate their message of protest through text messages and work towards the restoration of human rights, the judicial system and the removal of the media blackout amongst other issues."

The International News reports that SMS was used to organize what reporters call "the best coordinated protest to take place so far against the the imposition of emergency rule." The protest took place at Lahore University of Management Sciences and was organized by students. Similar protests organized by students via SMS took place at other university campuses.

Bloggers have also been using SMS to bring updates of the political situation to both Pakistanis and the outside world. One blogger, calling himself PK-SMS Reporter, writes:

"Recently with help from a number of brilliant technologists around the globe we have enabled LIVE SMS-2-BLOG services allowing citizen reporters in Pakistan to directly update this blog by sending this blog, readers shall now be given live updates from the field as it happens."

The blogger's frequent SMS updates are available on the blog Teeth Maestro. The blog also has a Twitter channel,

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