This is an open letter to the Government of Pakistan, the Members of the Standing Committee on Information Technology and the members of the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan.

Honorable members,

This past week, most of this country’s digitally enabled population has been discussing the Electronic Crimes Act 2015 that has passed from your committee and will be put forward in the National Assembly at some point in the near future.

This legislation has been called draconian in nature by many people and organizations who have spoken out against it. I do believe that most of the population of Pakistan would agree with them, as I did in my article last week where I provided a comprehensive analysis of the legislation.  Many of us are calling on citizens of Pakistan to band together and protest your attempt to silence the population through legislative measures, but this letter is not a continuation of that, rather it is an attempt to help you understand that what you are proposing will be used against you and your supporters in the near future. I say that very openly because you can’t have double standards – allow some to criticize while others are arrested – nor can you show preferential treatment to your own blue-eyed boys.

Once the legislation is passed, it applies to everyone in Pakistan, including your own members and supporters.

You need to recall your own positions in the not so distant past. I say this because your own memories are short and fading, mostly because, like politicians, you don’t see the evil that you do, only that which others do.

During the Musharraf government, when GEO News was taken off air, it was members of every political party on other channels, in newspapers and wherever they could find a microphone, condemning the censoring of a news channel. During the People’s Party government, there wasn’t a single political party that didn’t distribute Internet memes and negative stories about former President Zardari and other members of the party. I can even recall a popular Chief Minister of yours saying that he would drag Zardari through the streets. I don’t recall any channel being shut down or political party being victimized for these violent statements against the government and the sitting President of Pakistan, although, to be honest, it would have been the right of the government to arrest that Chief Minister and lock him in a hole for threatening the sitting President.

But your own rich history with censorship can’t be forgotten. It was the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz that embargoed newsprint to the Jung Group in 1998 to keep them from printing the many corruption stories of your government. It was your government that arrested journalists and brutally tortured them – one even sits on GEO News talking about the chiryas that visit him late in the night to tell stories of government activities. We can’t forget that many of your party faithful were part of General Zia’s government, whose track record on censorship is well known to all Pakistanis and the international community, with his “board” that would approve and reject stories before they were published in the mainstream print media. Silencing the opposition is nothing new to the Pakistan Muslim League and Nawaz Sharif governments, but this is a dramatic over-reach intended to shut down all political conversation in the country.

I noticed, looking at the list of “esteemed” members of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Information Technology that Captain Safdar, Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, is the chairman. What a surprise! Many of us had been lead to believe that this legislation came from the table of Khwaja Asif and Chaudhry Nisar, but to see that Safdar is the Chairman clarifies that this comes on orders from the Prime Minister’s House itself.

We would assume that you understand that this will embarrass Pakistan in the eyes of the international community. With the YouTube ban still in effect, most of the world’s technology companies and experts are already raising questions of censorship in Pakistan, but this legislation will further inflame those conversations. But then, your governments have never been concerned with embarrassing Pakistan. No, it’s always been about self-interest and self-preservation for the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz. We all remember the amendment your government attempted to pass in your last government that would have made the Sharif family the monarchy of Pakistan. No, we haven’t forgotten in all your attempts to paint yourself as the victim what you tried to do to the people of this country in your vain attempt to turn Pakistan into a monarchy ruled only by your family.

But I digress…

We have that pesky PEMRA Ordinance that has been used to shut ARY News and Capital News down numerous times, including taking a popular anchor off air because he continues to point out your corruption and highhandedness. That same ordinance was bypassed to allow GEO News to broadcast continuously for 8 hours against Zaheer-ul-Islam, the Director General of the ISI. Their license should have been revoked; instead they were banned for a few weeks. We won’t discuss the blasphemy case that was filed against GEO Entertainment, Mir Shakel-ur-Rehman and Shaista Lodhi. Somehow they were able to escape any judgment for “violating the ideology of Pakistan.” Interesting how the blue-eyed boys that I mentioned earlier got a pass while the channels that won’t take the money and be quiet were punished.

I would point out that clause 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance also contains the similar language (“willfully causing damage to any other person.”) as your Electronic Crimes Act 2015. Yet, you have only used this against those channels that have spoken against your party, not those who speak for an Indian agenda, not those who support terrorist and anti-state organizations, nor those who broadcast “religious leaders” justifying the execution of those who don’t support their view of what Pakistan should be.

Or shall we discuss the Pakistan Protection Ordinance that was passed late last year, where the government has the ability to declare anyone an anti-state element and order their arrest and detention without trial? How many people have been declared anti-state and arrested? Abdul Aziz is still walking free in Islamabad, no matter that he has pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. Would that not fall under the “anti-state” definition of that legislation? Or has Chaudhry Nisar used his influence as a former student of their father and Lal Masjid to keep the government from taking action against a terrorist haven in the center of Islamabad?

Seems like Homeland got that dead right in their script last season.

Or shall we talk about the new 20 point National Action Plan that has not been fully implemented because a billa whispered to you on stage that you should be careful that this law is not used against the politicians, and you were quick to make sure that you protected your own groups from being subjected to law and order for your activities with terrorists and extremist organizations? What is the status of all the committees and sub-committees that all answer to Prime Minister House? We haven’t heard a mouse squeak in months while the courts have struck down the execution orders of the military courts.

Honorable members of the government, might this be a reaction to the dharnas of Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri last year in D-Chowk, when your government had the dust knocked out of it and faced sure dismissal? We all know about the Rs. 450 million that was spent in “counter-advertising” to keep your government in power. But don’t you find it interesting that those same parties that stood with you on the floor of the Parliament demanding that your government be saved are also calling the 2013 election a complete farce in front of the judicial commission?

Karma, my friend, gets everyone. It doesn’t announce its vengeance. It just takes it.

But this legislation does nothing to silence the terrorists and extremists. It does nothing to stop their flow of information to their supporters because you aren’t thinking of stopping the anti-state elements. You are only concerned with stopping political dissent to your failed policies and corruption.

This legislation contains nothing to track, trace or stop the financial activities of terrorist, extremist and anti-state elements. Their flow of income will continue unabated because you aren’t thinking of stopping them. You are only concerned with stopping the citizens of Pakistan from speaking out against the government.

We all understand what the objectives of this legislation are and very few of us are going to stop criticizing your government, your ministers and your allies. Many of us would gladly find a place in a jail cell to give you an international black-eye with the countries that keep you in power. No, the Saudi monarchy doesn’t keep you in power, Mr. Prime Minister, they only pay you to serve them instead of Pakistan.

All of us understand that this is nothing more than blatant censorship of the people’s voice. All of us understand that this will not silence the strong; rather it will create a much larger hue and cry against your government.

Democracy demands the people’s voice. We aren’t silenced after we stamp our voting slips. Whether it is in support or in opposition to the government of the day; it is the hallmark of democracy. And if you wish to continue fooling the world into believing that Pakistan is a democratic country, this legislation will end all the charades that you play.

These are the democratic ideals that you espouse. Silence is never golden, Mr. Prime Minister.

It is always the ones who are silent when oppressed that you should fear the most.