Sir: On September 17, 2012, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered access to YouTube blocked after the website did not remove the trailer of Sam Bacile’s Innocence of Muslims, a film insulting Islam. Pakistan banned YouTube because it was considered blasphemous for defaming Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Since this ban months ago, the government has done practically nothing to either get the objectionable content removed from the website or open access to its non-controversial pages for millions of internet users.
Judging by its past actions concerning blasphemous content, Google doesn’t give two hoots about this so-called warning. Instead of making absurd decisions, efforts ought to be directed towards other IT-related issues, including establishment of a robust filtration system which, for that matter, should have been developed and in place by now as these blasphemous activities have been going on for the past many years.
The question is why doesn’t the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the US-based company Google (which owns YouTube) to remove the objectionable content from the website? Unlike Pakistan, countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia have entered into such agreements with the US. Under the MLAT, these countries are in a position to request Google to follow local laws and remove objectionable content from YouTube. Even a country like India has signed the MLAT with the US and because of this New Delhi has been able to get all objectionable content blocked without denying access to YouTube. On our part the most shameful and disturbing fact is that some illiterate people have given so much publicity to that third rate movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ that it has become a success.
Our reaction must be prominent against evil but it doesn’t mean we ourselves become evil. Just imagine how much advertising revenue it would have generated because our stupid people did its massive publicity for free. I guess what I am saying is irrelevant in this country where hooliganism reigns over pragmatism every time. Shutting our eyes to the world is not the answer and makes us appear little more than whiny children. Banning something only highlights something more and takes away the good with the bad.
USMAN ALI KHAN