A Sheikh ul Islam (Grand Mufti) of the Ottoman Caliphate, had given the verdict against the printing press invented by a German goldsmith Johann Gutenberg in 1448 as ‘haram’, as it could also print human pictures, images and effigies etc. The Caliph’s court edict was applicable to the entire Islamic world, which was, however, rescinded some two hundred years later. But by then it had done immense damage to the cause of Islamic thought, religion and literature which had been left far behind compared to the Christian and Jewish thought and knowledge which had gotten a tremendous boost due to the printing of hundreds of thousands of their books through the printing press.

Though the Minister of Information has stated that the government was not interested in retaining the ban on YouTube yet, I hope the posterity will not mock and scoff at the present government notwithstanding the naivety of the clergy - for denying access to a great source of knowledge to the Pakistanis, especially its youth. Can the government dare defy the mullah?

COL RIAZ JAFRI (RETD),

Rawalpindi, October 27.