Pause. Rewind. What? Pakistan Embraces Its Inner Great Firewall of China
As the Internet censorship debate raises the already scorching temperatures in India, neighbor Pakistan is not one to be left behind. But while most countries don’t explicitly outline their censorship policies, the Pakistani government appears more than happy–some might say thrilled, even–to build a mass firewall right before the nation’s eyes.
According to a New York Times report, the government recently issued a public solicitation for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system”. Moreover, parties interested in creating the pièce de résistance have the added incentive of a $10 million grant should their system tickle the government’s fancy.
And while censorship in Pakistan is hardly a new concept–the country has already blocked pornographic sites and occasionally the likes of Facebook and Youtube–an automatic blocking and filtering system would be akin to following in the Great Firewall of China’s footsteps. Because clearly it was met with such tremendous enthusiasm in China.
But wait a second, the Pakistani government is never without its reasons. The move toward a national firewall would help maintain public morality, protect national security and circumvent blasphemy. Well, that just about changes everything!
Those Pakistanis, after all, are really the most publicly immoral, blasphemous beings around. They believe in ambitious causes like speaking out against a corrupt government, fighting an increasingly conservative insurgency, and–here’s the kicker–freedom of speech. These are the same folks who so foolishly supported a religious minority by way of mango juice. They’re basically serving up blasphemy in their daily cups of chai.
Many citizens and free-speech advocates have taken to the streets to protest the firewall, but it’s unlikely the government will budge from its broader agenda to save Pakistan’s soul from the perils of freedom. We get it, Pakistani government. Freedom of speech is a concept more socialist than Barack Obama. How dare the country’s inhabitants assume poking one another on Facebook is a constitutional right?
For failing to recognize the right of its people to exercise a voice, and for setting the clocks back faster than you can say “Blunt amendment”, Pakistani government, you are hereby:
Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.