The micro-blogging site, Twitter, has been blocked and taken from all the users, well, use. Government officials claim that there was a blasphemous topic being discussed, on the site, regarding Muhammad PBUH. Which hurts me, too, mind you, but that does not mean we mess around with people’s freedom of speech and the decision of visiting/not visiting that site. Naturally, they contacted Twitter’s administration to bring it down, to which Twitter’s people comfortably replied that they “cannot stop any individual doing anything of this nature on the website”. Great. What does our government do? Of course, block the blasphemous website which supports freedom of speech: how dare they!
So that’s done and dusted, what next? They are not sure how long will they keep it blocked, either. I, personally, have proxy software (which I am sure most of my Pakistani fellows are using at the moment), but put to no good use. Somehow, even that does not respond where Twitter is concerned. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have done a good job (but you can use Twitter from your mobile devices) or simply the proxy recognizes you’re from Pakistan Even though the reports claim that they have simply blocked access of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Multan, mainly PTCL’s internet connection; where does Baffa, Mansehra come in the mixture, where I am right now? I wonder.
They also say that this step was taken on the behalf of the masses, who were taking this issue seriously (and emotionally). How about the other chunk of people that are on Twitter and, also, believe in freedom of speech? They must suffer, yes.
This move could be completely political, as well. Pakistan Tehreeq-e-Insaaf, the key element of the coming elections, is at the heart of this action. The topic is related to Islam, making it a sensitive one over the masses, and a suitable tool to be used. By doing this they will gain the trust of sensitive Muslims, since obviously PTA has their best interest at heart. Playing with public sentiments is not a new thing at all to get better poll ratings for so-and-so political party. Hell, even Obama is taking a shot at it!
In any case, Pakistan is not the first country to be behaving this strongly towards actions rooted in Twitter’s millions of ‘followers’ who come from all sorts of cultures, religions and general backgrounds. Having said that, of course there are going to be extremists and prejudiced people on it, as well, so that obviously needed some curbing; too much freedom is never healthy, anyway. In the beginning of this year, though, Twitter had officially announced that they could and will block/remove tweets and account-holders if the said person’s/concerned tweet’s country’s government was to deem it inappropriate or simply may complain (if Twitter did not block/remove the person/tweet): twitter encourages countrymen to go haywire where the country’s acceptable actions and unacceptable actions’ boundaries clash, and making it apparent that the nation would be ‘all right’ with anything, even if they did not agree with it. Of course that is not so, and if anyone thought that it was is living 200 years ahead of time where countries let their people be.
But, alas, there’s another oddity: Twitter, after only 5 months of stating that they would respond to government’s requests/notifications affirmatively, suddenly decided that it was not going to help Pakistan. Why not? Twitter gets an estimated 730 million hits a month on average. Yes, it’s crazy but true. They have even experienced a recent spike, going up to 760 million (and onwards). We are definitely not a large percentage missing, but still we are missing, and I doubt Twitter’s too happy about it.
Sure, Twitter’s really fun and addictive, and, if not thousands, then hundreds of Pakistanis will have a bad day because of the blockage, but that’s not the only reason why this action was wrong. Even though Twitter contradicted itself by not responding to our governments requests, they do have a point: human freedom is one thing that America said it would work for, and they have, its bad effects are besides the point right now. Freedom of thought, speech and action is the essential ingredient for a human being, and his damned right. Taking away Twitter like that is clearly stating that they dont care for our freedom, which is very, very unfair. Being an ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan, how can they not know that Quran is based on fairness?
Let’s see where we are headed. Perhaps, short and sweet ‘Pakistan’ would do?