It has emerged that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to serve the micro blogging site Twitter with a final notice, asking the website to respond to requests from Pakistan or face the risk of being blocked in the country. Allegedly the platform is not complying with the Pakistani authorities to censor and filter out content that they believe is “anti-state”. Twitter, as a platform, emerged due to its own definitions of what is suitable for the audience and it has allowed space for many dissenting voices to raise their concerns and connect to the relevant people to get their voices heard.
It is precisely because of this policy that it is not complying with the wishes of the Pakistani authorities. However, the answer certainly does not lie in banning such an important platform which allows many to connect and share information. It has become an important platform especially with regards to the politics of the country - where you can find much of the information along with giving the lawmakers the necessary push to make the right decisions.
A platform such as this is not just beneficial for the population but also keeps us connected with the developments in other parts of the world too. In the age of internet connectivity, cutting off access of the population to its news sources means stifling their growth and pushing them to live within a nationalistic bubble which does not allow the growth of dissenting views.
We have already witnessed the downside of blocking websites that provides access to sharing content – like YouTube. The only impact it made was that it took the country a couple of years back in terms of digital growth. The growth of social media in a country is important, especially in today’s digital age. The influx of information allows space for innovation and exchange of ideas, which is necessary for any country to keep pace with the rest of the world.
In a democratic setup, it is necessary to provide citizens the freedom to express their views and have clearly demarcated boundaries of what should be categorised as pro-state and anti-state. The loosely defined terms then allow many to manipulate individuals and take a stance against them whenever they please. Curbing the freedom of people should not be the aim; dissenting opinions are necessary in a functioning democracy.