More on the YouTube ban? -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

More on the YouTube ban?

Pakistan Press Foundation

Sir: Even those outside of the ‘liberal-fascist’ viewpoint are now beginning to understand that the ban on YouTube is suspect, and few believe this issue is about blasphemous content anymore. The question is: who benefits from the YouTube ban in Pakistan?

Actually, there is a long list of those benefiting from the ongoing blockage of YouTube, including some very powerful players. First of all, we have the establishment, which is reaping multiple benefits from the ban. The blockage of the video hosting site ensures that we no longer have terrorist outfits and banned organisations uploading daily or weekly video updates from within the country of alleged battle conquests, soldiers’ beheadings, or worse, videos of men dressed in Pakistan army uniform torturing the people.

Secondly, we have the political parties breathing a collective sigh of relief with YouTube banned. Time and again, YouTube has proved to be a deadly thorn in the side of the political elite, increasingly so over 2012, as more and more people started to understand that the online channel gave a platform to dissent. Thirdly, we have the media elite, which is sitting pretty with the YouTube ban in place. Traditional media has built a rocky relationship with YouTube. The pattern emerging is clear. The YouTube ban is a classic attempt, albeit in a new arena, by those in power to maintain the status quo by blocking access to information. The public has allowed them to do this because the ban was initially framed in the name of religion. While the world moves ahead to more nuanced political and social systems, it seems Pakistan is still living in the dark ages.

Unfortunately for the powers that be, this system — as exemplified by this ludicrous ban on YouTube — will not hold. The way forward is democracy, which signals the end of such autocratic shenanigans. The internet in particular is a largely democratic, if somewhat anarchic system, and all overt blocks and bans will prove futile. If YouTube is banned, people will find a way around it or find new online spaces to operate in. Ban Facebook? Ban Twitter? Ban all sites disseminating information contrary to the agreed upon narrative? Best be prepared for a backlash, because ‘democracy is the best revenge’.

TANIYA SAIFUDDIN
Karachi

Daily Times