KARACHI: The Pakistan Tele­com­munication Authority (PTA) announced on Thursday that it had decided to lift the ban on the online game PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battle Ground).

In a statement, PTA said its officials had met the legal representatives of the gaming platform. “[The] representatives briefed the authority on the response to queries raised by PTA with respect to controls put in place to prevent misuse of the platform.”

“The authority expressed its satisfaction on measures adopted so far and emphasised on continued engagement and a comprehensive control mechanism,” it said.

The statement added that the representatives welcomed PTA’s feedback on the issue and assured that their concerns would be taken into account, urging the telecommunication authority to lift its ban.

“Keeping in view the positive engagement and response of the company, PTA has decided to unban PUBG,” it added.

Fawad describes it as sane approach

Reacting to the news, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said the decision to end the ban on the online game was a sane approach.

“[A] ban is an extreme measure, must be very careful in [the] future,” he said, adding that the science ministry was of the opinion that Pakistan must work closely with tech companies to resolve issues.

PTA had banned the online game on June 1, citing several complaints about it being addictive, a waste of time and its potential negative impact on children’s physical and psychological health.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared PTA’s suspension of the game unlawful and directed the authority to issue an order explaining its jurisdiction. The decision was announced in a short order issued by Justice Amir Farooq.

In a detailed explanation, the authority said it had come across various studies, papers and reports regarding the impact of internet games, specifically PUBG, on the mental as well as physical health of the players. Besides violence and addiction, the authority said PUBG made people less productive.

The authority had said it considered it “necessary” to block PUBG in the interest of public order.

Ban on Bigo

As a result of constant engagement and a detailed review by PTA, the authority has decided to unban the services of Bigo in Pakistan.

According to a separate press release, a meeting was held between PTA authority members and Bigo South Asia Operations Vice President Jhon Zhang.

The representative assured Bigo’s commitment to moderate immoral and indecent content in accordance with Pakistani laws, the statement added.

“Bigo management assured continued engagement with PTA to address the issue of unlawful content,” it said.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020