India’s embarrassing mishap of banning the popular Chinese app “Tiktok” should have been a lesson in how blanket bans, instead of regulation, can inflict more damage than the perceived benefits. Unfortunately, this message does not seem to have registered with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which when faced with some complaints about the popular mobile game “PUBG Mobile”, responded with temporarily suspending the game, instead of looking into the nature of the complaints and seeking a more measured response.

PTA’s press release about the ban encouraged the public to provide feedback about the online game and the consequential suspension of it. However, had the PTA solicited the views of the public before this emergency blanket ban, it would’ve received sensible and scientific feedback from those most impacted on why this prohibition makes no sense. It is not fair to blame one game for addiction and deterioration of mental health—these are extremely complex and layered problems which the suspension of one game, out of thousands, will not solve. Banning an online game instead of seeking further insight into why mental health issues are rising and making therapy accessible is a cop-out. This policy is tantamount to banning all universities just because the pressures of education have taken a fatal toll on some.

It would also have been helpful had the PTA done more research into PUBG and seen how the game has brought about a mini professional gaming revolution in Pakistan. It is a game that bridges class divide because anyone can play it on the phone unlike the old days of an expensive PC or console. A lot of people are making a lot of money because of it, and it’s also their only source of income.

This ban will be similar to the ban on YouTube; one that deprives many more than the few it benefits. The people paying the price will be gamers that predominantly hail from lower income groups, for whom this easily accessible app was an equaliser to the world of profit and fame.