Having a bottle of whiskey in America during the 1920’s was a dangerous affair. The constitutional ban on alcohol had made the possession of spirits illegal. The police were quick to crackdown on any bootleggers and even the KKK threatened vigilante action against those who disobeyed the law.

In 1926, the police of Delaware were preparing to raid a building where there had been reports of an illegal bar functioning. When the police finally tore down the door of the old house, inside they found a congressman, a senator and the county sheriff all enjoying a pint.

Prohibition in America never worked. In fact history proves quite the contrary. The ban on alcohol allowed for criminal gangs and organised crime to flourish in the form of the New York Mafia and one Al Capone from Chicago. It also devastated the US economy with losses of up to $226 million per annum in tax revenue cuts. In the end, by 1932 President Roosevelt had to ratify the 21st amendment and lift the ban off alcohol to cut their losses and finally legalise an industry that was competing with the formal economy.

A hundred years have passed since alcohol was illegal in America and seemingly the Pakistani government has learned nothing, banning the video game PUBG a few weeks ago and with talks of banning YouTube currently going on.

While some people may feel that the panic surrounding the whole situation is an overreaction and a possible ban on YouTube is trivial compared to what is happening in the world right now, they forget that the Pakistani government has already proven to us that it can make some questionable decisions, such as the ban that they imposed on YouTube in 2012.

Though times have changed, it is important to know that prohibition and censorship has never worked in history. If people want access to something, they will either get it (even if it ends up costing more) or develop alternatives. The single most harmful decision that the government can take currently is a ban on social media and YouTube. It will limit the ability of people to learn during quarantine. Moreover, this time it will also financially cripple the people who rely on YouTube for their income.

Most notably though, this time around, the government also has the responsibility to fill a void left behind by the YouTube Ad space, reportedlyw a Rs400 million industry.

Recent studies and reports from universities around the world clearly show that the average TV use is falling while use of the Internet for entertainment has skyrocketed in the last few years. Whilst other nations embrace the change by paying YouTubers to promote their respective local cultures, Pakistani courts are the ones to disagree. Despite the fact that our Prime Minister met with top YouTubers only a few months ago, the judges of Pakistan have had a quick change of heart and seem to be unwittingly destroying Pakistan’s global image.

The humorous thing is that the ban will probably not even be successful in censoring the “inappropriate” content as deemed by the government. People will just end up accessing the site with VPNs or other software.

Pakistan is a nation that already suffers massively from the absence of certain Internet services. The lack of Amazon and PayPal has effectively crippled local freelancing. As any aspiring VFX artist will tell you how online transactions become a nightmare.

While multiple local alternatives have recently popped up, such as EasyPaisa and Daraz, it is no secret that they are usually less proficient, both in terms of services provided and range of products offered as compared to the international giants. Similarly a ban on YouTube is bound to spell nothing but disaster as a large online audience will be forced to migrate to other subpar video sharing websites, possibly with even worse moderation than YouTube.

Ultimately, we as citizens should trust the decisions that our ‘democratic government’ makes but one cannot help but laugh at the irony that the decisions regarding online presence and Internet usage, decisions that clearly affect the younger generations more, are being made by old men who barely know how to navigate their iPhones.