Digital Regression

In a baffling move, Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi has proposed slamming the door shut on the digital age by suggesting a perma­nent ban on all social media platforms. This backwards-looking res­olution disregards the essential role of digital communication in the contemporary world.

Senator Tangi’s resolution contends that social media platforms are un­dermining the younger generation, promoting values contrary to our re­ligious and cultural ethos. While acknowledging the need for scrutiny, an outright ban on major platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, X, and YouTube is a draconian measure that threatens to sever Pakistan’s ties with the global digital community. In an era where the rest of the world is hurtling forward into a digital future, such proposals only serve to make Pakistan a global laughingstock. These ill-conceived ideas gain traction at a time when the IT and services sector is grappling with the spectre of a blanket ban on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), raising fears of devastat­ing consequences for the country’s economy. Disruptions to businesses and potential setbacks to the government’s ambitious $15 billion export target for the IT and IT services sector should not be taken lightly.

Digital rights activist Nighat Dad rightly points out that such a blanket ban sets a dangerous precedent, trampling on fundamental rights with­out any accountability, thereby undermining Pakistan’s global stand­ing. The Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) highlights that a VPN ban could disrupt business operations and impede the govern­ment’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business.

While acknowledging the legitimate concerns about the misuse of so­cial media, endorsing a wholesale ban is nothing short of advocating a return to the Stone Age in terms of information exchange and connectiv­ity. The solution lies in adopting a balanced approach—implementing regulations and safeguards to curb the negative impacts of social media while harnessing its potential for positive change and economic growth. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) should play a crucial role in ensuring the uninterrupted operation of internet services. PTA should work in tandem with industry stakeholders to strike a delicate balance between security and fostering a thriving digital environment.

While concerns about the adverse effects of social media are valid, an outright ban is an overreaction that Pakistan cannot afford. It is time to embrace the digital era with thoughtful regulation and strategic plan­ning, ensuring that our nation remains a dynamic participant in the global digital landscape.

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