ISLAMABAD - A Senate standing committee on Monday passed a resolution in favour of unblocking the video sharing website, YouTube.
The unanimously-approved resolution stated that the ban on YouTube in the country was not yielding required results as controversial material was still accessible. Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and other members observed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman had admitted at the last meeting that the ban on YouTube was useless as there were still ways to access it. The committee urged the government to unblock the website.
YouTube has been controversial in the country for many years. It was banned several times due to the objectionable and controversial contents on its server.
The video-sharing website was banned in 2010 again due to the blasphemous content, but was reopened when the objectionable contents were removed from the website.
In 2012, an American-made movie triggered violent demonstrations across Pakistan, which, reportedly, left more than 20 people dead. The movie had reportedly a blasphemous content. The PPP-led government’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf directed the IT Ministry to block the website, which instantly calmed the situation. Since its blockage there has been a debate in the country against and in favour of this ban. Some believe YouTube is an informative website and in a country where education standard is very low as compared to the rest of the world, this site gives them visual access to latest technologies, advanced knowledge and experiments.
“We don’t have access to many latest books and those, which are available, are quite expensive; through YouTube we can see latest experiments, technologies and research,” Irshad Ahmed, a student at National University of Science and Technology (NUST), told The Nation.
He was of the view that instead of blocking the site, the government should register its protest at diplomatic level and should ban imports from the countries that are involved in insulting Islam and Muslims. Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious party of the country, which led the protests in 2012, is still in favour of the ban on this website.
“Since there is blasphemous content on this website and PTA has failed to block the controversial content, we believe the ban on YouTube should continue,” JI Punjab Secretary General Nazir Ahmed Janjua told this scribe. According to him, the content was hurting the feelings of the Muslims.
Hafiz Oneeb Farooqi, spokesperson for Ahle Sunnat-wal-Jamaat, is in favour of opening YouTube, but insists that the government should block all controversial contents.
YouTube should be opened, but there must be strict monitoring of all the contents and anything which can hurt anybody’s feelings, religious beliefs or social norms should be blocked at once, Farooqi said. According to the data collected in 2011, around 10 percent population of the country uses Internet. According to Pakistan’s advertising society, young adults represent majority of Internet users. At least 79 percent users are between the age group of 18 and 29, while 59 percent are in the age group of 30-44 and the remaining 31 percent are up to 60.
The committee also passed a unanimous resolution against the incident of cannibalism. Senator Sehar Kamran pleaded that the existing laws related to cannibalism were not sufficient, so new strict laws should be made to discourage such types of incidents.
Hidayat Ullah Khan, Surrayya Ameeruddin, Sehar Kamran, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Nasreen Jalil and Farhatallah Babar attended the meeting, while Afrasyab Khattak chaired the proceedings.