While I did expect that it would happen one fine day, but just when I was done with an overdose of patriotism with the March 23 parade, I found out that my blog was not a safe surfing area for people living in Pakistan anymore.
Of course, I was not receiving any special treatment and it was wordpress.com which was blocked, and along with it hundreds of other Pakistani blogs. From what I read in the papers, it was because of national security. No confirmation from the PTA, but apparently it was just another of those switch on and off episodes. Nothing to worry about.
Perhaps the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority is either incompetent, or is being malicious on purpose.
The PTA has become an out-of-control psychotic. Or if that sounded too harsh, probably more like a bored baby with a dangerous toy in his hands, with rather juvenile and cute, but obnoxious antics, only with potentially dangerous consequences. The idle and overly concerned bureaucrats in this government body, which probably should not exist in the first place (at least the department of censorship), must invent new things to keep themselves occupied and feel purposeful about themselves.
We often hear political parties make big fuss about public infrastructure and welfare projects being a waste of money for partisan reasons, but no one ever bothers considering these bureaucratic agencies, not to mention completely useless organizations such as the Islamic Ideological Council, a burden on the poor taxpayer. They are just drawing salaries out of your tax money, and they need to be there because, well, they are a part of the government.
But there is an even more dangerous question to ask.
How far will our government go in curtailing our civil liberties and access to information in the name of national security?
Sadly this question remains as unanswered in advanced democracies such as the United States and the EU, as it is in countries with almost theocratic preoccupation. So why bother.
Despite the tendencies among the Pakistani people to accept every single state absurdity in the name of national security, they do come across as pretty freedom loving. So would they be willing to give up facebook one day in the name of national security, decency or for the protection of all things that are holy?
Or would that trigger a riot for the demands of their beloved social media platform one day, with the likes of the Jamaat-e-Islami leading it? Only time will tell.
I really do hope we live to see that day. Wishful thinking.
Though the question of the temporary blocking of wordpress.com should not go unanswered. We should demand a response from the PTA, who should explain to the Pakistani people why they take them for an intellectually challenged group.
Why do they believe that blocking words of dissent on one platform would prevent the people from its harmful effects? And that if they are curious, they can always find ways to reach such information.
Why is Pakistan trying so hard to become China? I am not even sure if our other horrible ideal, Saudi Arabia, practices this much internet censorship.
The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.
Filed under: Articles, Commentary | Tagged: authoritarianism, bureaucracy, China, dissent, freedom of press, freedom of speech, government, internet censorship, national security, Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, politics, PTA, regulation, social media, Wordpress | Leave a comment »