Controlling the information in Pakistan

PTI government is using 19th century methods to control the information in 21st century 

Even in the 21st century, our rulers and decision makers continue to follow the medieval tradition of burning the books to keep them away from the masses. Instead of burning the books, the PTI government has decided to ban books. It seems a blatant attempt to ban the opposing views.  Only method has changed but the purpose is the same. They want us to keep away from books that does not follow our stereotype, conservative right wing thoughts and narratives. Same applies to our state discourse and narrative. 
The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board, which should ideally be encouraging the reading of books has ordered that 100 books currently being taught in private schools in Punjab be banned for teaching content that is deemed ‘anti-Pakistan’, immoral and containing blasphemous content'. These books have been published by 31 publishers including Oxford and Cambridge. The PTCB has also started a critical review of 10,000 books being taught at private schools across Pakistan to determine if they are acceptable.
In the meanwhile, the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed the Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam Bill 2020 which gives the Directorate General Public Relations (DGPR) powers to visit and inspect any printing press, publication house, book store and confiscate any book, before or after printing. The legislation covers in some detail the restrictions placed on publishing and the corresponding power to the DGPR.
PTI government also trying to control the social media. the mainstream media is already under pressure and  facing censorship. Now government is trying to control the information on social media.  PTI government has so far proved that it has very low tolerance level for criticism. 
A new study on regulation of online information by Bolo Bhi, a media rights and free information advocacy group, has traced the history of efforts to prevent citizens from accessing knowledge over social media. The study notes that the effort began in earnest with the setting up in 2006 of the inter-ministerial committee for the evaluation of websites and later the notification of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes law in 2016. Now the effort has been strengthened with the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules 2020. These proposed rules have met with immediate opposition and the prime minister has decided they be shelved for the moment until it is possible for the federal cabinet to review them and determine if they will protect citizens or in fact restrict their access to knowledge. One legislation after the other is aimed to limit the access of people to information and critical thinking. This government want us to take back to the dark period of Zia dictatorship which used religion and morality to suppress the independent voices and thoughts. PTI government is trying to suppress progressive, rational ad alternate ideas and thoughts. 
As per the study, there are already mechanisms in place to protect citizens on online crime. In 2006, after the first measures to officially restrict social media under the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf, the PTA was simply given instructions to block certain political websites. Many of them are still impossible to access. The views of these organizations, whether right or wrong, whether factual or inaccurate, thereby disappeared from the public domain.
In effect, the state of Pakistan seems convinced that it has the right to determine what citizens see and what they hear and what they read over social media. There have been instances in which Twitter or Facebook have been asked to remove material which the state deems is not suitable for viewing by the people.
 And we now live in a time when, along with mainstream journalism, social media content is also in danger of being censored or banned or blocked in Pakistan. This sort of heavy hand of the government, which uses any and all excuses – morality, ethics, religion, 'decency' – for its efforts at censorship will only lead us down a dangerous path of complete conformity of narrative and crackdown on any kind of dissenting thought. From TikTok to Bigo to YouTube to Twitter, must we as citizens of Pakistan wage a constant battle just for the luxury of watching a few funny videos or tweeting out a rant or two or – in what is now becoming increasingly impossible – airing thought deemed critical of the status quo?  
Unfortunately, all this is happening at a time when a political party led government is in power. The party claimed to be a democratic party. But its actions seems contrary  to its claims.  

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