YouTube ban

Published January 17, 2016

THE senseless ban on the video-sharing site YouTube might finally be getting closer to being lifted, but it appears there is still some residual reluctance to actually do so in some quarters of the government. According to reports, the government has given a commitment to Google at the highest levels that following the localisation of its domain, access to the site will be opened up. Reportedly, Google has upheld its end of the commitment by investing millions of dollars in the localised domain, following which the prime minister committed earlier this week to a group of American business leaders that the government would now lift the ban. But days after the commitment, the site remains blocked, reportedly due to reluctance on the part of the IT ministry to implement the prime minister’s instructions.

It is imperative that the directive to lift the ban be implemented without further delay. The ban itself has hurt nobody other than the citizens of Pakistan, who have been deprived of the enormous educational benefits the site has to offer. Continuing delay in lifting the ban is now hurting the country’s credibility, as well as the standing of the prime minister before foreign investors, who are left wondering whether they should believe anything they are told by the government of Pakistan. Not only has the ban invited ridicule, it has also damaged the credibility of the government and political leadership. The IT ministry should waste no further time in lifting the ban, or at least provide sound reasons as to why it is unable to implement the directive of the prime minister. If it has not received any such directive from the top political leadership, that should also be admitted openly. Thus far, the IT ministry is either avoiding all contact with the media, or a few officials are providing off-the-record comments only. The ban and the stalled efforts to lift it have dragged the country into an absurd position, and the affair should end now.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2016

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