X Debate Continues

It has officially been two months since Pakistani citizens lost their ability to freely use X, formerly known as Twitter, and the myriad of stances and justifications our government has given have only added to the complexity of this issue. Multiple bodies including the SHC and the US have unequivocally stated that the ban is unwarranted and should be removed if it cannot be justified.

Initially, the government cited concerns over defamation and misinformation on the platform, framing this as a matter of national security. Now X has released an official statement claiming that it is working with the government to understand their concerns and solve them. Now the government seems to be giving an alternate explanation once again, arguing that X’s lack of physical presence in Pakistan and its non-compliance with our local laws is the reason why it cannot be allowed to operate. It is understandable why this claim has been met with a great deal of skepticism considering the timing of this change in stance, along with the lack of logic in this criticism. All digital platforms – whether it be Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or Facebook – do not have physical offices in each country. That is also true for Pakistan; if we started barring each platform, good, or service that didn’t have a physical presence in Pakistan, our economies would come to a halt. Will this government require all companies to do so?

Furthermore, all of these shifts in stances raise pertinent questions and suspicion in the eyes of the public about the underlying motives behind the ban. Not to mention, this is significantly damaging our image in the global online sphere. Twitter has always allowed our citizens to engage in global conversations, exchange ideas, and assert their voice in political discussions. Not allowing our citizens to have this freedom is only exacerbating the very same problem our government claims to be so concerned about misinformation. Several accounts on X sponsored by India have spoken maliciously about our nation and continue to spread misinformation without any Pakistani accounts on it to counter them or give proper context.

X may contribute to misinformation, but it is also our best tool to counter it. There are defamation laws in place for us to utilise without having to resort to such extreme measures. If this is truly the concern of our government, then we ought to make use of the solutions that have prevailed for the rest of the world instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt