A ban onslaught for Sindh
Words cannot describe the foolishness of the latest move by the Sindh government to ‘curb’ terrorism. In an inexplicable move, the provincial government has suspended essential free cyber messaging applications such as Skype, Whatsapp, Tango and Viber for three months, stating security concerns as the reason behind this step. Many are shocked that the Sindh government has resorted to this kind of policy to ostensibly defeat the terrorists. Many online activists are bashing the move as yet another tactic to police and halt cyber activity. The move reeks of ludicrous thinking and seems, in fact, an admission by the Sindh government that it has completely failed to protect the people and safeguard them from the ongoing threat of attacks. One must ask this clueless government just what it hopes to achieve with this ban. This has been a pattern during the last few years, with the previous government routinely suspending cellular services for up to two days at a time whenever a national holiday would approach. However, just what did this achieve? We have been made to suffer through cellular services being halted and YouTube being banned, among other things, and we still see almost daily terror attacks. Such moves are akin to banning cars and motorcycles because they are frequently used in terror attacks. The government has gotten so used to throwing the baby out with the bathwater that it has forgotten exactly why it does what it does. There really is no point to such policies.
Besides the outraged youth who will be without the ease of instant messaging and chat services, online applications such as Skype and Whatsapp provide a cost-free way for most of our expatriates to stay in touch with family still living in the country. To suspend these services right before the occasion of Eid is to deprive the many millions who depend upon them to communicate with loved ones. It sometimes feels as though the government is bent upon making life as inconvenient for the public as possible. Some conspiracy theorists are even saying that the ban has been imposed not to combat terrorism but to collect more taxes from the inevitable overseas calls that will result due to the suspension of these services. While that may or may not have been the intention, such high costs for calls will be collected from consumers who have no other option. Whatever the government’s thinking, and whether the ghost of Rehman Malik has come back to haunt public services, one cannot help but be disgusted at their limitations and lack of wisdom. *