It seems that after an agonizing year, the government has finally decided to employ common sense and lift the ban on YouTube. The popular and ultimately irreplaceable video streaming site was banned by the previous government because of a homemade hate speech video uploaded on their server, which was seen as insulting to Muslim sentiment. Mass protests and rioting followed, condemning the video, its maker and the world in general for this sacrilege. The ban was enforced as a means of placating the outraged demonstrators.
However, this was seen as an excessive measure by those you used the website on a daily basis. One of the most popular websites on the internet, YouTube has millions of videos in its database, related to all subject matters conceivable. People use it to educate, promote and inform themselves and others. The video in question was just one out of millions, and by banning it, the government used the least effective route to block the video, in contrast to the measures adopted by other Muslim countries where the video has been removed and YouTube remains open. Months passed, the man responsible for the video was placed under arrest in America, yet the ban continued, and the calls for its removal went unanswered.
Reports have surfaced that the government was developing its own firewall, which would enable it to restrict the viewing of material that was deemed inappropriate. Why the government wanted to do that when Google was offering to do it for them is beyond anyone’s guess. YouTube in many countries, including most Muslim nations, offers a service that restricts some videos as per the laws of that country. They gave this option to Pakistan as well but it ignored this proposal and continued to think of increasingly more preposterous ideas to overcome its need.
The public, although annoyed, started using proxy softwares that would enable them to access restricted material without any checks. Their lives went on as before, although with slower streaming speeds because of the extra effort the proxy softwares have to make to hide the users IP address. The ban in short, was useless. People who wanted to use YouTube and other restricted material continued to do what they wanted to, while the government sat and pretended like this move was somehow in the interests of the people. Limits imposed on information are never acceptable, but in this case it seemed the ban in itself was the government's success, which is not the case. It seems that finally the government has come to their senses and “in principle” agreed that the ban is useless, and that it limits the right to information for absolutely no reason. Let us hope they lift the ban on YouTube soon, and do not make silly, impulsive and ultimately futile decisions such as this in the future.