Skype Fall | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Skype Fall

Pakistan Press Foundation

Skype FallI have a question. What is more problematic – placing a ban on instant messaging services or giving office space to the Taliban?

I think what’s problematic here is that these are the only two options we have. Period.

And on top of this Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is tweeting this: “I’d rather lose an app than another life”, says he on twitter, and then in the same breath suggests: “Dear Burgers, excuse us while we catch some terrorists and save some lives. SMS for three months.”

Now I can spend some time analysing this term of endearment ‘Burgers indeed’, but forgive me for I have better things to do. Like analysing the rest of the argument.

Analysis: Considering that Mr BBZ himself is neither losing an app nor is he in need of sending SMSs; for he doesn’t live in Pakistan, and so rich is he, my young feudal/entrepreneur(ish) lord, that he can pick up a phone and make long distance calls any time of the day to anywhere in the world, so I think he should spare us the wisdom on how to live our lives back home, and instead try answering the following question:

Question: Do you know what else these terrorists use other than Skype and WhatsApp? Guns! They use guns. And bullets. And other weapons. Why don’t you try banning those?

But then how can you do this? You don’t live in Pakistan. We all know that right now you are being groomed to be our next ruler, and four years from now you will be coming back to us, to rule us, and to tell us more about eating cake when we run out of bread, and to put bans on cars and popcorn; but then we are hoping to be gone by then – for good. Don’t ask us where.

We will Skype you to tell. Or SMS.

But in all honesty, I must concede that it’s all our fault. The burgers with their counter arguments should zip it sometimes. I remember when the PPP proposed a ban on late night mobile phone packages because young people were getting immoral ideas because of them, then it was the burgers who countered the argument by taking the name of WhatsApp in vain. “What makes them think that the young can’t use WhatsApp to send their immoral messages”, they said. And now see where their big burger-eating mouths have landed them.

So here is to some conformist ideas. Ban comparative religion in Punjab, open a Taliban office in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ban instant messaging in Sindh and then let’s all move to Dubai and tell the people of Balochistan how to live their lives. Sounds like a plan doesn’t it? And yes, don’t forget to pack the burgers.

And on that profound note, let me stop here for a minute and take a story break.

The story: A few weeks ago my son asked me to get him a particular computer game from England. I spent hours scaling shops in London asking around for the said computer game only to be told by every salesperson in town that the game I wanted could not be run in Pakistan. It was because the game had just been launched and it was code protected. Tired of the day’s trysts I called a techie friend back home to take advice. And this is what he said to me:

“Hellooo. Do you live in Pakistan? Do you know Pakistanis? These poor goras know nothing about us. Bring the game. We’ll run it.”

As it turned out, my friend was right. The only reason I didn’t bring the game was because it was already available in Pakistan; much cheaper; pirated, broken coded and all. So much for the new launch and so much for the code protection.

Moral of the story: Hellooo. Do you live in Pakistan? Do you know Pakistanis? If the terrorists are indeed Pakistani terrorists then while we are sitting here poking fun at one another, they have probably already figured out a way to go around their little ban problem.

Gosh, don’t we all miss the good old times when we had a much simpler explanation for what caused terror in Pakistan? Ordinary things like the wives and girlfriends of the philandering men of Karachi. At least this is what Rehman Malik told us that these jilted beloveds were the cause of all the killings in the city.

Well, those were the days. The only difference between then and now is that this time it’s Skype that does it. Big development I must say, and we all must applaud and say hallelujah. In fact we should try and sell this story to Hollywood for the next James Bond film and call it Skype Fall.

I dedicate the title track to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari:

“Skype fall is where we start. A thousand miles and poles apart. I might have your number, but I might never call. Because calling now is so expensive.”

I am sorry for not making the rhyme, but then when there is no reason there is no rhyme either.

Which reminds me, I have another question:

Why didn’t it ever occur to Rehman Malik to ban wives and girlfriends in Sindh?

But before somebody takes me seriously and bans girlfriends in Sindh, I must go and do something productive. Like sending a direct message to Taliban on their Twitter account. Or logging on to their official website to see how many Nato officers they have killed.

All of this, still unbanned in Pakistan.

The writer is a graduate student at the University of Oxford, and faculty member at LUMS.

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