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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Pakistan tackles web porn
Computer dealer in Pakistan
An estimated one million people are online in Pakistan
Pakistan is to develop software to block pornographic websites as part of a drive against obscenity on the net, say officials.

The computer program will be offered for free to surfers later this year so that they can set up internet filters on their machines.

As a conservative Muslim nation, Pakistan is keen to shield its citizens from the copious amount of explicit material on the web.

It could face an uphill struggle, with more than 60% of the country's internet users visiting porn sites, according to telecoms officials.

Many of the Pakistanis looking at adult material on the web are said to be youngsters.

Internet access is readily available and inexpensive in thousands of net cafes across the country. An hour's surfing can cost as little as 15 rupees (15 pence).

Net unease

Pakistan has already tried to stem the flow of pornography over the net.

Hands on keyboard
Internet access is readily and cheaply available
Earlier this year, the authorities blocked more than 1,800 websites, which were described as a "corrupt and evil influence".

"This is a continuing process and we will keep on blocking such sites," Zahir Mohammad Khan, a senior official at state-run Pakistan Telecommunication told the Reuters news agency.

He said people would be able to download the filtering software for free from the site of the Ministry of Information Technology.

An estimated one million people use the internet in Pakistan.

It is not the only conservative Muslim country uneasy about adult content on the web.

Saudi Arabia actively filters all internet traffic to control what its citizens see online.

And religious hardliners in Iran are increasingly concerned about access to information from the outside world.

On Tuesday, it said it had blocked access to more than 140 websites with pornographic content and anti-government material.

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