A global partnership announced plans to spend more than $5 billion to eradicate poliovirus.
Most of the passengers on an express train were asleep when it derailed and its cars fell across the track into the path of another.
The rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops has left the agency seeking ways to maintain its intelligence-gathering, war-fighting and counterterrorism operations in the country.
An inoculation push, plagued with limited supplies and red tape, makes doses available to those who can pay for them. In a country with a struggling economy, most can’t.
Vaccine shortages, porous borders and fleeing migrant workers have nearby countries fearing that they will share India’s fate.
The Serena Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, is frequented by foreign guests, including a high-level Chinese delegation that was staying there but not present when the explosion struck.
The Serena Hotel in Quetta, Pakistan, is frequented by foreign guests, including a high-level Chinese delegation that was staying there but not present when the explosion struck.
Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.
Just a week ago, the government declared Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan a terrorist group. But after violent protests spurred by the publication of caricatures in France, the government acquiesced to the Islamist party’s demands.
Pakistan has temporarily blocked several social media services in the South Asian nation, according to users and a government-issued notice reviewed by TechCrunch.
In an order titled “Complete Blocking of Social Media Platforms,” the Pakistani government ordered Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Telegram from 11am to 3pm local time (06.00am to 10.00am GMT) Friday.
The move comes as Pakistan looks to crackdown against a violent terrorist group and prevent troublemakers from disrupting Friday prayers congregations following days of violent protests.
Earlier this week Pakistan banned the Islamist group Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan after arresting its leader, which prompted protests, according to local media reports.
An entrepreneur based in Pakistan told TechCrunch that even though the order is supposed to expire at 3pm local time, similar past moves by the government suggests that the disruption will likely last for longer.
Though Pakistan, like its neighbor India, has temporarily cut phone calls access in the nation in the past, this is the first time Islamabad has issued a blanket ban on social media in the country.
Pakistan has explored ways to assume more control over content on digital services operating in the country in recent years. Some activists said the country was taking extreme measures without much explanations.
Pakistan’s military stayed allied to both the Americans and Taliban. But now the country may face intensified extremism at home as a result of a perceived Taliban victory.
This is the story of an unholy alliance, Pakistan-style.
Activists have accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of “baffling ignorance” and victim-blaming after he said rape cases had risen because of “vulgarity.”
A pediatric outbreak in a remote Pakistan city shows the urgency of global health after Covid.
Pakistan has banned TikTok again in the country after reviewing a complaint that said the popular video app hosted immoral and objectionable content.
A high court in the city of Peshawar on Thursday ordered the nation’s telecom authority — Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) — to ban TikTok.
In a statement Thursday evening, Pakistan Telecom Authority said it was complying with the order and had “issued directions to the service providers to immediately block access to the TikTok app.”
TikTok had about 33 million users in Pakistan last month, according to mobile insight firm App Annie (data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch). There are about 100 million internet users in the South Asian nation.
The Peshawar High Court’s Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan described some videos on TikTok as “unacceptable for Pakistaini society,” and said these videos were “peddling vulgarity,” according to local media reports.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This isn’t the first time ByteDance’s app has been banned by Pakistan. PTA had briefly banned TikTok in the country last year, saying at the time that the Chinese social app hadn’t addressed concerns about the nature of some videos on its platform despite warnings spanning several months.
Pakistan’s move follows its neighboring nation, India, also banning TikTok last year. New Delhi banned TikTok — and eventually 200 additional apps with links to China — over cybersecurity concerns. Prior to the ban, India was the biggest international market for TikTok, which had amassed over 200 million users in the world’s second largest internet market.
Like India, the government in Pakistan has also sought to assume more control over content on digital services operating in the country in recent years.
While global tech giants, most of which count India as a key overseas market, haven’t made much fuss about New Delhi’s new rules for social media, they banded together in Pakistan late last year and threatened to leave the country over rules proposed by Islamabad.
Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), the tech firms said in November that they were “alarmed” by the scope of Pakistan’s new law targeting internet firms.” In addition to Facebook, Google and Twitter, AIC represents Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, SAP, Expedia Group, Yahoo, Airbnb, Grab, Rakuten, Booking.com, Line and Cloudflare.
Requiring higher-level approval is a stopgap measure as officials review whether to tighten Trump-era targeting rules and civilian safeguards.
The agreement between the nuclear-armed neighbors to keep a lid on tensions along the so-called Line of Control was welcomed in the tinderbox region.
Iram Parveen Bilal’s “I’ll Meet You There” depicts a parent who supports his daughter’s dream. The filmmaker’s own parents weren’t as sure about her passion.
Ten doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would expire within hours, so a Houston doctor gave it to people with medical conditions, including his wife. What followed was “the lowest moment in my life,” Dr. Hasan Gokal said.
Reaching the peak in the harshest of seasons is considered one of the greatest challenges in mountaineering.
Mohammed Ismail, father of the women’s rights activist Gulalai Ismail, now faces harsh terrorism charges that critics say are about revenge, not justice.
The court ordered the release of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a man previously convicted of being the mastermind of the American journalist’s abduction and murder.
The turbulent region has long weathered violence and political strife, but India’s security crackdown and the coronavirus have brought life in the tourist-dependent region to a near halt.
Pakistani news sites said almost the entire country of more than 200 million was without power.
The Lahore High Court said the practice was humiliating and casts suspicion on victims rather than the accused.
Officials said all the victims were ethnic Hazaras, a Shiite minority group that Sunni extremists have often targeted.
Chawmos, a festival of Pakistan’s tiny Kalash community, is a portrait in contrasts: solemn ritual and joyous dancing, gender segregation and public flirtation, togetherness and isolation.
A detention order had been applied to four men accused in the American journalist’s abduction and murder even after their convictions were overturned.
Mourning on a wintry day at the end of a year that has all been winter.
Mourning on a wintry day at the end of a year that has all been winter.
Public apathy and suspicion, and the government’s inability to enforce health restrictions, are feeding a second wave in a country with a limited social safety net.
A Canadian’s gruesome account as an Islamic State executioner in Syria, which was the subject of the “Caliphate” podcast by The New York Times, was fabricated, officials say. A Times review found no corroboration of his claim to have committed atrocities.
After an official cast blame on a rape survivor, setting off protests, the government has promised swifter justice and chemical castrations.
Australia’s intelligence agencies have been caught “incidentally” collecting data from the country’s COVIDSafe contact tracing app during the first six months of its launch, a government watchdog has found.
The report, published Monday by the Australian government’s inspector general for the intelligence community, which oversees the government’s spy and eavesdropping agencies, said the app data was scooped up “in the course of the lawful collection of other data.”
But the watchdog said that there was “no evidence” that any agency “decrypted, accessed or used any COVID app data.”
Incidental collection is a common term used by spies to describe the data that was not deliberately targeted but collected as part of a wider collection effort. This kind of collection isn’t accidental, but more of a consequence of when spy agencies tap into fiber optic cables, for example, which carries an enormous firehose of data. An Australian government spokesperson told one outlet, which first reported the news, that incidental collection can also happen as a result of the “execution of warrants.”
The report did not say when the incidental collection stopped, but noted that the agencies were “taking active steps to ensure compliance” with the law, and that the data would be “deleted as soon as practicable,” without setting a firm date.
For some, fears that a government spy agency could access COVID-19 contact tracing data was the worst possible outcome.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries — and states in places like the U.S. — have rushed to build contact tracing apps to help prevent the spread of the virus. But these apps vary wildly in terms of functionality and privacy.
Most have adopted the more privacy-friendly approach of using Bluetooth to trace people with the virus that you may have come into contact with. Many have chosen to implement the Apple-Google system, which hundreds of academics have backed. But others, like Israel and Pakistan, are using more privacy invasive techniques, like tracking location data, which governments can also use to monitor a person’s whereabouts. In Israel’s case, the tracking was so controversial that the courts shut it down.
Australia’s intelligence watchdog did not say specifically what data was collected by the spy agencies. The app uses Bluetooth and not location data, but the app requires the user to upload some personal information — like their name, age, postal code, and phone number — to allow the government’s health department to contact those who may have come into contact with an infected person.
Australia has seen more than 27,800 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 900 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Global internet companies Facebook, Google and Twitter and others have banded together and threatened to leave Pakistan after the South Asian nation granted blanket powers to local regulators to censor digital content.
Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan granted the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority the power to remove and block digital content that pose “harms, intimidates or excites disaffection” toward the government or in other ways hurt the “integrity, security, and defence of Pakistan.”
Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition Asia (AIC), the tech firms said that they were “alarmed” by the scope of Pakistan’s new law targeting internet firms.” In addition to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, AIC represents Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn, SAP, Expedia Group, Yahoo, Airbnb, Grab, Rakuten, Booking.com, Line, and Cloudflare.
If the message sounds familiar, it’s because this is not the first time these tech giants have publicly expressed their concerns over the new law, which was proposed by Khan’s ministry in February this year.
After the Pakistani government made the proposal earlier this year, the group had threatened to leave, a move that made the nation retreat and promise an extensive and broad-based consultation process with civil society and tech companies.
That consultation never happened, AIC said in a statement on Thursday, reiterating that its members will be unable to operate in the country with this law in place.
“The draconian data localization requirements will damage the ability of people to access a free and open internet and shut Pakistan’s digital economy off from the rest of the world. It’s chilling to see the PTA’s powers expanded, allowing them to force social media companies to violate established human rights norms on privacy and freedom of expression,” the group said in a statement.
“The Rules would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses. If Pakistan wants to be an attractive destination for technology investment and realise its goal of digital transformation, we urge the Government to work with industry on practical, clear rules that protect the benefits of the internet and keep people safe from harm.”
Under the new law, tech companies that fail to remove or block the unlawful content from their platforms within 24 hours of notice from Pakistan authorities also face a fine of up to $3.14 million. And like its neighboring nation, India, — which has also proposed a similar regulation with little to no backlash — Pakistan now also requires these companies to have local offices in the country.
The new rules comes as Pakistan has cracked down on what it deems to be inappropriate content on the internet in recent months. Earlier this year, it banned popular mobile game PUBG Mobile and last month it temporarily blocked TikTok.
Countries like Pakistan and India contribute little to the bottomline for tech companies. But India, which has proposed several protectionist laws in recent years, has largely escaped any major protest from global tech companies because of its size. Pakistan has about 75 million internet users.
By contrast, India is the biggest market for Google and Facebook by users. “Silicon Valley companies love to come to India because it’s an MAU (monthly active users) farm,” Kunal Shah, a veteran entrepreneur, said in a conference in 2018.
In “The Nine Lives of Pakistan,” Declan Walsh, a foreign correspondent for The Times, profiles some of the country’s powerful and contentious figures and investigates why his work eventually got him kicked out.
The country fails its women from the very top of government leadership to those who live in our homes.
The American diplomatic mission in Islamabad said its account had been used “without authorization” to forward a message citing the presidential election result as a blow to demagogues and dictators.
A former Taliban commander was arrested in the November 2008 kidnapping of Mr. Rohde and two others in Afghanistan. He was brought to the United States to face charges.
Hello hello, and welcome back to Week in Review. Last week, I wrote about the possibility of a pending social media detente, this week I’m talking about a rising threat to Facebook’s biz.
If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here. And while I have you, my colleague Megan Rose Dickey officially launched her new TechCrunch newsletter, Human Capital! It covers labor and diversity and inclusion in tech, go subscribe!
The Big Story
First off, let me tell you how hard it was to resist writing about Quibi this week, but those takes came in very hot the second that news dropped, and I wrote a little bit about it here already. All I will say, is that while Quibi had its own unique mobile problems, unless Apple changes course or dumps a ton of money buying up content to fill its back library, I think TV+ is next on the chopping block.
This week, I’m digging into another once-maligned startup, though this one has activated quite the turnaround in the last two years. Snap, maker of Snapchat, delivered a killer earnings report this week and as a result, investors deemed to send the stock price soaring. Its market cap has nearly doubled since the start of September and it’s clear that Wall Street actually believes that Snap could meaningfully increase its footprint and challenge Facebook.
The company ended the week with a market cap just short of $65 billion, still a far cry from Facebook $811 billion, but looking quite a bit better than it was in early 2019 when it was worth about one-tenth of what it is today. All of a sudden, Snap has a new challenge, living up to high expectations.
The company shared that in Q3, it delivered $679 million in reported revenue, representing 52% year-over-year growth. The company currently has 249 million daily active users, up 4% over last quarter.
Facebook will report its Q3 earnings next week, but they’re still in a different ballpark for the time being, even if their market cap is just around 12 times Snap’s, their quarterly revenue from Q2 was about 28 times higher than what Snap just reported. Meanwhile, Facebook has 1.79 billion daily actives, just about 7 times Snapchat’s numbers.
Snap has spent an awful lot of time proving the worth of features they’ve been pushing for years, but the company’s next challenge might be diversifying their future. The company has been flirting with augmented reality for years, waiting patiently for the right moment to expand its scope, but Snap hasn’t had the luxury of diverting resources away from efforts that don’t send users back to its core product. Some of its biggest launches of 2020 have been embeddable mini apps for things like ordering movie tickets or bite-sized social games that bring even more social opportunities into chat.
Snap’s laser focus here has obviously been a big part of its recovery, but as expectations grow, so will demands that the company moves more boldly into extending its empire. I don’t think Snapchat needs to buy Trader Joe’s or its own ISP quite yet, but working towards finding its next platform will prevent the service from settling for Twitter-sized ambitions and give them a chance at finding a more expansive future.
Trends of the Week
These next few weeks are guaranteed to be dominated by U.S. election news, so enjoy the diversity of news happenings out there while it lasts…
Quibi is dead
Few companies that have raised so much money have appeared quite dead-on-arrival as Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup Quibi. This week, the company made the decision to shut down operations and call it quits. More here.
Pakistan unbans TikTok
It appears that the cascading threat of country-by-country TikTok bans has stopped for now. This week, TikTok was unblocked in Pakistan with the government warning the company that it needed to actively monitor content or it would face a permanent ban. Read more here.
Facebook Dating arrives in Europe
Facebook Dating hasn’t done much to unseat Tinder stateside, but the service didn’t even get the chance to test its luck in Europe due to some regulatory issues relating to its privacy practices. Now, it seems Facebook has landed in the tentative good graces of regulatory bodies and has gotten the go ahead to launch the service in a number of European countries. Read more here.
Until next week,
At least 12 people died as thousands crowded a soccer stadium. Many were seeking medical care in Pakistan, which recently eased its pandemic border restrictions.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said on Monday it has lifted the ban on TikTok, 11 days after the South Asian nation’s telecom authority blocked the popular short video app in the country over problematic videos on the platform. The authority, however, warned that TikTok needs to actively moderate content on its app or else it will be permanently blocked in the nation.
The telecom authority said it was lifting the ban after engaging with TikTok’s senior management, which assured it would moderate content in accordance with “societal norms and the laws of Pakistan.” TikTok has about 20 million monthly active users in Pakistan, the authority said.
TikTok’s senior management team has also ensured that it will block users who show a repeated pattern of uploading “unlawful” content, the telecom authority said in a statement.
“The restoration of TikTok is strictly subject to the condition that the platform will not be used for the spread of vulgarity/indecent content & societal values will not be abused. PTA will be constrained to permanently block the application incase said condition is not fulfilled,” the authority warned.
Pakistan banned TikTok in the nation earlier this month and also after issuing a “final” warning to the app in July. In its warning, Pakistan had expressed serious concerns over some videos that were circulating on the platform. The nation said some videos were “immoral,” “obscene” and “vulgar.”
After the ban, TikTok had assured that it would work harder to moderate content and also offered to invest in the country if the ban were to be lifted.
The ban had also raised concerns with some (via Techmeme), who cautioned that the move was Pakistan’s ongoing attempt to enforce a top down censorship in the nation. Earlier this year, Pakistan unveiled some of the world’s most sweeping rules on internet censorship that would have severely impacted American tech firms operating in the nation. But it later retreated the rules after Facebook, Google and Twitter among other firms threatened to leave the nation.
Neighboring nation India has also banned TikTok, among hundreds of other Chinese apps. In case of India, the ban has been enforced over cybersecurity concerns. Prior to the ban, India was TikTok’s biggest market by users outside of China.
Conservatives have raised questions about public decency on the Chinese-owned service, but opposition groups see an efforts to stop criticism of the country’s leadership.
Pakistan has banned popular short video app TikTok in the nation, citing circulation of videos that it deemed “immoral and indecent.”
The move comes months after the South Asian country raised serious concerns about the nature of some videos on ByteDance’s app and the impact they posed on society.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the country’s telecommunication authority, said in a statement Friday evening that despite the warnings and months-long time, TikTok “failed to comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country.” The authority had received a “number of complaints from different segments of the society” over the videos, it said.
Some individuals in Pakistan, a nation with about 75 million internet users, told TechCrunch that the TikTok app and its website were already inaccessible to them.
“TikTok has been informed that the authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content,” said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in a statement.
The move from Pakistan comes months after its neighboring nation, India, banned TikTok, Bigo and 57 other apps developed by Chinese firms over cybersecurity concerns. Prior to the ban, TikTok identified India — where it had amassed over 200 million monthly active users — as its biggest market outside of China. Like in India, TikTok is also immensely popular in Pakistan, said Danish Khalid, an executive at Bykea, a Karachi-headquartered ride-hailing startup.
And then there is the U.S., the biggest market by revenue for TikTok, where also the app’s future remains uncertain.
The new financing round, a Series B, was led by storied investment firm Prosus Ventures . It’s the first time Prosus Ventures has invested in a Pakistani startup. Bykea’s existing investors Middle East Venture Partners and Sarmayacar also invested in the round, which brings its total to-date raise to $22 million.
Bykea leads the two-wheeler ride-hailing market in Pakistan and also operates logistics delivery business and financial services business. The startup has partnered with banks to allow customers to pay phone bills and get cash delivered to them, Muneeb Maayr, founder and chief executive of Bykea, told TechCrunch in an interview.
“Pakistan is primed to experience extremely strong growth in internet services over the next decade, with a rapidly increasing middle class. This growth provides immense opportunity for companies like Bykea that are transforming big societal needs like transportation, logistics and payments through a technology-enabled platform,” said Fahd Beg, Chief Investment Officer at Prosus Ventures, in a statement.
“Bykea has already seen impressive traction in the country and with our investment will be able to execute further on their vision to become Pakistan’s ‘super-app,’ he added.
The startup works with over 30,000 drivers who operate in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore. (Two-wheelers are more popular in Pakistan. There are about 17 million two-wheeler vehicles on the road in the country today, compared to fewer than 4 million cars.)
The investment comes at a time when Bykea’s business restores the losses incurred by the coronavirus outbreak. Like several nations, Pakistan also enforced a lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus.
Maayr said the startup did not eliminate jobs and instead cut several other expenses to navigate through the tough time.
One of those cuts was curtailing the startup’s reliance on Google Maps. Maayr said during the lockdown time, Bykea built its own mapping navigation system with the help of its drivers. The startup, which was paying Google about $60,000 a month for using Maps, now pays less than a tenth of it, he said.
Starting August, the startup’s operations have largely reached the pre-coronavirus levels, he said.
More to follow…
The case against Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is the latest in a string of moves against opposition figures that his supporters say are politically motivated.
The country debates women’s honor inexhaustibly but pays little attention to the ferocious and imminent dangers of climate disasters.
I thought my father was the only one with secret desires. Then my mother asked me to go for a walk.
The West still doesn’t understand the scale of Beijing’s soft-power ambitions.
The girl’s burned body was found two days later. The woman was dragged from her car. The two cases have focused the country’s attention on its handling of sexual abuse.