How to access Youtube in Pakistan

Ever since Youtube was blocked in Pakistan a couple years ago, it’s become commonplace to hear people ask each other what they use to bypass the ban. The most common option seems to be to install proprietary commercial VPN software, like HotSpot Shield or Spotflux. The problem with these is that they either make you pay for it, or you have to deal with annoying ads – or worse, they install malicous junk on your computer. In addition, when you use the VPN, it slows down your Internet connection – not just while watching Youtube, but for all Internet use – because it routs all your communication through the proxy server.

In my opinion a better option is to use Tor, a Free and open source circumvention tool that you neither have to pay for, nor does it bother with annoying ads.

The easiest way to use Tor is to just download and run the Tor Browser Bundle. This will give you a new Tor-secured browser that you can use to start watching Youtube videos out-of-the box without doing anything else. In this setup, the browser also gives you a very high level of anonymity and privacy while browsing. (Read more about how Tor works here).

This is great, but the problem is that download speeds will be slightly slower in the Tor Browser. And it is annoying to have to switch back and forth between the Tor Browser when you want to watch Youtube videos, and your regular browser for all of your other browsing.

There is a solution. You can access the Tor network from within your regular Firefox browser and set it up such that your browser will only to use Tor when accessing Youtube, but not for other browsing. This way it won’t slow down your entire Internet connection while browsing.

Several people have asked how to set this up in Windows, so below are step-by-step instructions. It works best with the Firefox browser (you can do it in Chrome also, but it won’t be as seamless):

[Note: Using this method is not recommended if you want to use Tor for its privacy and anonymity features, as there may be leaks. For private and anonymous browsing, use the regular Tor Browser Bundle.]

Part I: Install the Tor Expert Bundle

1. Go to the Tor downloads page and click on the “Microsoft Windows” bar to expand it:


2. Then scroll down until you see the Expert Bundle section and download the file to your desktop (or wherever you will remember it):


3. The file name should be something like “tor-”

4. Right-click on the file you downloaded and choose “Run as administrator“. (This is important. If you just double-click and run the file as normal, it may not install Tor properly).


5. Follow the instruction to install Tor with the default settings. When you reach the “Choose components” section, select the “Run at startup” option also, so that you won’t have to manually start Tor every time you start your computer.


6. Finish the installation with the default settings, and at the end of the installation it should automatically start Tor in a terminal window:


Don’t close this window. You can minimise it, but don’t close it.

Part II: Install FoxyProxy add-on in Firefox

7. Start your Firefox browser. Once it has opened, press [CTRL + Shift + A] to show the Add-ons manager.

8. In the search box, type “foxyproxy” and hit enter. Then install the FoxyProxy Standard add-on:


After it has installed, Firefox will ask you to restart the browser. Restart it.

9. After the restart, once again press [CTRL + Shift + A] to open the Add-ons manager. This time, click on the “Extension” tab on the left, then click on the “Options” button for FoxyProxy standard:


10. This will open a new window. In the “File” menu of that window, click on the “Tor Wizard” item:


11. When asked, choose “without privoxy”, and “OK” with the default port.

12. You should then see the window below. Here we will set the rules for when to use Tor. Double-click on the entry that says Google Mail to edit it:


13: This will open a new window. Change the URL pattern to ** as shown below and click on OK:


14. Click on the “Add New Pattern” button to add a new rule, but this time set the URL pattern to ** and click OK:


15. Your FoxyProxy proxies setting page should now look something like this, with one entry for ‘Tor’ and one for ‘Default’. In the ‘Select mode’ bar at the top change it to: “Use proxies based on their pre-defined patterns and priorities”:


16. Close the FoxyProxy settings window and start watching again! Note that going to the Youtube homepage at doesn’t always work, but direct links to youtube videos should open up just fine.


A different take on Youm-e-Takbeer


The Pakistani government is today celebrating the 16th anniversary of the 1998 Chagai nuclear tests. As the various political parties compete to take credit for developing a weapon of mass destruction, I thought I’d present an alternate viewpoint.

The recording below is excerpted from an interview of Naela Quadri, a Baloch nationalist political activist, who in May 1998 was was teaching at the University of Balochistan’s pharmacy department. In protest against the atomic tests in Chagai, Quadri and her students organised a rally from the university campus to the Quetta Press Club. In the interview, she explains to me the reasons for the protests, and how it lead to her being forced to resign from her teaching position.

The interview took place over Skype in May 2013 for a radio piece I did about women in the Baloch separatist movement for PRI’s The World. At the time of the interview, Naela Quadri was in exile in Afghanistan.

Women in the Baloch separatist movement

BalochWomanMilitantA radio story of mine has just been broadcast on PRI’s The World, about the role of women in the Baloch separatist movement. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the web title given to the report by my editors: “Baloch Women Leading Fight to Secede Balochistan Region from Pakistan” — so I thought I’d clarify it here, and also discuss some other aspects of the story (and links) that didn’t make it into the report due to time limitations.

To say that “Baloch women are leading the fight..” wouldn’t be entirely incorrect, but it suggests more than there actually is. The reality is that men still seem to overwhelmingly dominate leadership positions in Baloch separatist organizations. But what I was trying to convey in the piece is that Baloch women are becoming increasingly active and taking on increasingly prominent positions in the movement, contrary to how one would expect it.

My interest in this story started about 5 years ago when I came across a phone interview of Karima Baloch, the vice chairperson of Baloch Students Organization – Azad (BSO-A). The BSO-A can lay claim to revitalizing the Baloch nationalist movement and especially of mobilizing young middle class people in to the separatist struggle. I was surprised not only by the fact that a woman had a senior leadership role in the organisation, but also by the militancy of Karima’s ideas. It was in total opposition to how Baloch women are usually portrayed, as submissive victims of the male-dominated tribal society.

Journalist Malik Siraj Akbar has described Karima as the Baloch Leila Khaled. In 2009 Karima was sentenced (in absentia) to 3 years in prison  by an anti-terrorist court, for leading a protest against forced disappearances, and for defiling a Pakistani flag. She’s been on the run from authorities since then.


Scores of videos on YouTube show Karima and other women, leading protest rallies and giving speeches alongside men, calling for Balochistan’s secession. The grainy video below shows a woman, Andleeb Baloch, giving an angry speech at a rally in Tump, before it was alleged to have been opened fire on by Frontier Corps personnel:

The video isn’t clear enough to be conclusive, and the FC claims they were attacked first.

In my report, I discuss how, as a student leader several years ago, the now guerilla commander Dr Allah Nazar Baloch gave a speech at the Bolan Medical College, urging Baloch women to follow in the footsteps of Palestine’s Leila Khaled and take up arms. He asks if Razia Sultana, Margaret Thatcher, Tansu Çiller and Indira Gandhi can govern over their countries, then why can’t Baloch women take up such roles.

I also mentioned in my report a low-budget Balochi-language feature film called Jageen about the conflict between Baloch guerrillas and the Pakistani military. Near the end of the movie, the rebels are outnumbered and want to surrender. But a young female character decides she will take up arms, if the men are willing to keep fighting. The movie is below, and the relevant scene starts at around 35.50 :

And finally I discussed the case of Naela Quadri, a former assistant professor at the University of Balochistan, who had to resign after she led a protest against the 1998 nuclear tests in Balochistan. She then began campaigning for Baloch rights and was hounded by authorities, forcing her to to go underground for 5 years, and unable to see her three children and family. Since 2010, she’s been in exile in Afghanistan where she heads the World Baloch Women’s Forum. She claims to be the first woman in Balochistan to be actively involved in politics.


Naela Quadri (third from right) at a rally in 2009

I interviewed her over Skype, in which she described one incident when the Inspector General  of police wanted to meet her while she was being held at a police station in Quetta, when :

She told me she regarded the involvement of women in Baloch politics as a historic change in society:

My report just touches on some of the main points. There are many issues that have not been discussed, and my research is particularly lacking because of how hesitant (rightly so) people in the movement are about dicussing their activities with outsiders. But it will be interesting to see how this phenomenon continues and the changes it may bring about in the long run.