September 23, 2011 1 Comment
The Lahore High Court, on the 19th ordered the ministry of information technology to block access to all websites spreading religious hatred. It seems like a flashback from not so long ago, when the same institution banned Facebook and Google along with various other websites, claiming it was spreading religious intolerance. The infamous competition of drawing pictures of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is provided as an argument for the ban.
One might understand the judgement since it was directed towards protecting the feelings and emotions of the majority in Pakistan. But the simple facts are these:
The majority of Pakistan is illiterate, out of the minority that is literate, majority don’t have (or can’t afford) computers, out of those who have personal computers, majority don’t even care about the stupid competition.
Besides, since when did Pakistan became the world leader in religious tolerance? Just a few days earlier, Pakistan was counted among the top 10 countries / regimes, which failed to protect religious freedom. Go further back this month, innocent people were killed and injured in the name of ‘protecting religious emotions’. In a country, where there are many laws, tailored purely to discriminate and suppress minorities that belong to other religions, Justice Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court deemed some websites on the internet (which aren’t made for this purpose) harmful and intolerant.
Not so long ago, in the same province, flyers were distributed calling upon an average Muslim to kill two Christian brothers, then banners put up which suggested it is ‘must’ to kill someone belonging to Ahmadiyya sect, even flyers were distributed citing names of those people in Faisalabad, along with the message ‘liable to be killed’. I wonder how any of these incident went unnoticed by the Lahore High Court or even the Supreme Court of Pakistan. How is banning a few websites, which were used by some mischief creators for their own purposes, an honest decision, when all of the above mentioned ‘crap’ is being done every day under the nose of the court?
Let us for a minute look away from this hypocrisy, Pakistan and India have been the hub of software engineering for over a decade now, the majority of software engineers around the world is desi (from Pakistan and India). Since the arrival of social media portals, innovations have cropped up in this field and many now depend on platforms like Facebook, Google, Orkut etc. for their living. Banning these websites will not provide good results for these people. In-fact, many of these projects have been recalled already.
The sensible thing to do here is to reconsider this matter on a broader scale, not just religiously but also considering the economic effect of these actions. Though in my view, this decision will never be an honest one, considering what has been going on in Pakistan (in terms of religious tolerance) for over five decades.