An alleged Cyber Crime Bill is about to be tabled in the National Assembly for debate and subsequent passage to be implemented in Pakistan to “regulate” the Internet. No Objection carries on because Pakistan does need a proper but friendly media/cyber regulation but that doesn’t mean a rise of the Fourth Reich or regulations closer to proverbial satellite communist states. The Government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League (N) is the epitome of an old and time tested principle: “we learn from history that we learn nothing from history”.
Not very long ago, the government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif was facing a possible military-cum-political coup d'état threat from Imran Khan and his horde. In that occasion, it was the social media, the civil society and a few intellectuals (many of them work in NGOs, yes the ones that were sweepingly attacked by Ms Anusha Rahman, the IT Minister) who vociferously defended not only the supremacy of the Parliament but the very government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif, by ripping the narrative of Imran Khan apart on the social media. Let me remind Ms Anusha Rahman that the venom that she spat on NGOs is almost the same as the one prevalent amongst the several banned militant outfits in Pakistan. Ms Anusha Rahman, by attacking NGOs, is miserably trying to appease that very lobby of Right Wing Militants who were part and parcel of the Musharraf regime that overthrew Mr. Nawaz Sharif in 1999.
It is also worth remembering that similar curbs and strong arm tactics to gag the media during Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s second tenure, became one of the reasons behind his fall. Everybody still remembers how Mr. Mushahid Hussain and Mr. Saifur Rehman unleased fascism on the Pakistani press and prominent victims were Mr. Najam Sethi and Mr. Husain Haqqani. How conveniently the government of Mr. Nawaz Sharif has forgotten the way Mr. Siddiqal Faruq, Mr. Mushahidullah Khan, Mr. Pervez Rasheed, Mr. Javed Hashmi and Rana Sanaullah were treated by the General Pervez Musharraf regime between 1999 and 2007 and it was only the Media which came to the help of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. Yet the IT Minister had the audacity to declare the apprehensions of the civil society as hearsay, in a TV Show yesterday.
Pakistan is a Third World country where law enforcement agencies act as a colonial force instead of people friendly force and when a country is exploding with religious and ethnic hate, such harsh and severe regulations would open the gate of mass persecution at the drop of the hat. For example, every Mullah interprets the “glory of Islam” as per the interpretation suited to him and declares anyone opposing his view as death-deserving and an apostate.
Another absurdity which is added as an offence in the Bill: “attacking friendly countries”. Now please browse the internet and look for the statement of Mullahs of different schools of thought attacking several Middle Eastern/West Asian countries, and all these Middle Eastern Countries (Gulf States) have friendly relations with Pakistan. Is the government out of its mind or does it want to fill the prisons with all and sundry who raises his or her pen on any international issue related to foreign countries? Another joke was to add as an offence the critique on the “integrity, security or defence of Pakistan”. By the way, has anyone gone through the Wikileaks and even routine news after the War on Terror?
Pakistan is a tough and rough country where law enforcers often overkill and that overkill has culminated in the present state of affairs in the country. Above all, what guarantee do the common, peaceful political commentators have in the presence of these proposed harsh laws in the hands of brute law enforcers (believe me, I have been one, once). Ms. Anusha Rahman’s response: The Fair Trial Bill!
Lastly, some of the journalists and Urdu newspapers are equally to be blamed for suggesting moral policing in Pakistan and one such journalist’s ugly reporting blocked the efforts to lift the ban from YouTube and that particular newsgroup & TV Channel raised hell when the same logic of moral policing was applied on them last year. Therefore it is requested that the Pakistani media, particularly the obnoxious rag Urdu media, either stand with the civil society or with the banned outfits. Or stop chanting cries for press freedom.