Monday, July 20, 2009

Sorry Mr. President, I was only joking!

So one day, Pakistani President Asaf Ali Zardari walks into a bar. But I can't tell you what happens next lest I risk being in a Pakistani prison for the next 14 years...

Well that's at least what this news item from TOI suggests:

If you mistakenly, or just for fun, share with a friend one of the hundreds of derisory jokes about the leader floating around electronically, you could get a 14-year prison sentence.

Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik announced last week that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been tasked to trace SMS (or text messages) and e-mails that "slander the political leadership of the country" under the vague Cyber Crimes Act.

Now, if only they would've thought of putting the terrorists behind bars, they wouldn't have had to think of such creative ways to deal with the excess capacity in their prison cells.

What's more surprising to me, though, is that even we, Indians seem to have an obvious threat to our freedom of speech:

In addition to facing up to 14 years in the jail, violators could have their property seized, Malik said, adding that the government would seek Interpol assistance in deporting foreign offenders.

Weird, huh? We can make a joke on our president, but not our neighbour's!

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