Oops, PTA did it again!

Area 14/8

The 15 minute trailer to a profane film has ignited rage in many Muslim countries including Pakistan. An official holiday called the “Ishq-e-Rasool” Day was observed last week to calm the storm. Pakistan demanded YouTube to take down the film trailer but Google,the owner of YouTube,refused to comply as the film did not violate any laws so to speak. Since Pakistan does not share a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT),Google was unable to block the video as it had in other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

Like the Ministry of IT and Telecom which failed to acquire the above MLAT with Google,PTA displayed its incompetence in blocking YouTube altogether. Not only was the disputed service banned but so were many other Google applications including Google Maps,Google Play, Google Drive,Google Analytics,Google Docs,Google Image search,Google Blogger,Google plus and all android applications. Even though Google services are interlinked,with the right hardware and software YouTube could have been blocked without affecting the rest of the network. Unfortunately,PTA does not have these facilities.

A whitewash technique has affected students,researchers,businessmen and all those companies which rely on services provided by Google for external as well as internal communication with colleagues and clients. Google products could no longer be downloaded. Complaints regarding sluggish internet speed were also reported.

Many of the companies affected by this action are small scale enterprises which cannot afford to add more losses in an ever increasing expensive work environment. This is particularly a stressful time for companies whose work is linked to foreign companies like traders or call centers.

There is still a part of the population which believes electronic communications are limited with the majority choosing to opt for a non-technical or cash-only method for transactions. But in fact,it is these disruptions that have hindered technological progress in Pakistan causing it to lag behind other nations in the international market. Unreliable circumstances in Pakistan have discouraged foreign investors from bringing their business to the country. In order to compete in the global market,Pakistan must have the same facilities as other nations.

The anti-Islam video was no-doubt meant to hurt Muslims and it has been even condoned by non-Muslims. Banning YouTube mirrors Pakistani sentiments but as many other Pakistanis agree,there are alternative ways to express resentment. Some suggested holding milaads,conferences and even the production of a film showing the true personality of the Prophet while others urged to ignore the film so that it fails to profit the filmmaker. The public can be expected to react emotionally but it is the job of the government and religious scholars to consider the whole picture before taking drastic decisions and even worse,poorly executed ones.


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