This is a living document, we will be adding more details and examples to it on an ongoing basis. The study is intended to compare the laws between the two countries and look at some of the success stories.

Published in The News on Sunday on October 13th – Special Report

Sana Saleem, an award-winning blogger, is an activist working on minority rights and internet freedom, and co-founder of Pakistani Internet advocacy group Bolo Bhi

 

The News on Sunday: What’s your take on the government’s decision to block Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communication channels? Is this the only way to curb crime and terrorism?Sana Saleem “This reflects a deeply flawed counter terrorism policy”

Sana Saleem: Access shouldn’t be a victim to national security. The plans to block these are a gross violation of fundamental rights of citizens. None of this helps security. In fact, this reflects a deeply flawed counter-terrorism policy.

In the past, the government suspended cellular services over a dozen times. An important point to note is that when the government suspends GSM networks, it also disables home and car security networks, further risking lives and property.

Rather than taking strong measures for counter-terrorism and centralised intelligence data-sharing to enable better security, the government seems to be determined to violate constitutional rights of its own citizens.

With the new government in power, we had hopes for rethink of past policies. However, in the backdrop of recent announcements and continuing blockage of YouTube, the future of open access remains bleak, unless policy makers take necessary measures to protect right to information.

TNS: What exactly does your organisation (Bolo Bhi) do and how has it resisted state control over internet?

SS: Bolo Bhi is a not-for-profit civil society group that focuses on research-based advocacy to influence policy change. Last year, we resisted government’s attempt to install a URL filtration & blocking system.

The campaign last year had two components. First, it was launched at a national level, seeking out academics, entrepreneurs, small business, parliamentarians, and civil society at large to reach out to the government and inform them about the repercussions of the pending filtration system, which included blanket surveillance and ad-hoc censorship on content online. The aim was to build an understanding of how surveillance and censorship impact various segments of society, most importantly, the economic and academic impact of surveillance and censorship technology.

The second targeted the international community. This campaign was designed to ask international human rights groups to build pressure on Western surveillance technology companies not to sell the technology to Pakistan. When we reached out to eight leading companies that sell such technology, five of them committed not to sell to Pakistan owing to increased censorship.

This year, our director has been appointed amicus curie in the YouTube case in Lahore High Court (LHC) where she’s been advising the court on policy and civil liberties aspect of the ban.

In the YouTube case, we’ve been providing the court with research on how surveillance technology works and the repercussions of such a technology on citizens’ rights, conducting research on the use of YouTube for academic purposes in Pakistan and submitting citizen letters to the court and the minister on how citizens have been impacted by the YouTube ban.

TNS: How do you think internet censorship harms the interests of citizens?

SS: The United Nations has declared access to internet a basic human right. Over the years, we’ve seen the role communications technology plays in healthcare, education, business and media. Censorship impacts the society at large, it affects the way we communicate and share information. It greatly impacts our own understanding of our society and history.

TNS: Pakistan has signed international covenants on freedom of expression, speech, etc. Is it complying as well?

SS: No it isn’t. The state has consistently violated freedom of expression, citizens’ constitutional right to privacy, and their fundamental right to access information. The right to privacy is an inviolable right mandated by the Constitution of 1973. Similarly, the right to information is a constitutional right. As mentioned earlier, the United Nations passed a resolution in 2012, declaring internet access as a basic human right. So, blocking access is tantamount to denial of this right to citizens.

— By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

 

 

 Letter to the German Embassy

                                                                                                                                                                       Petra Speyrer

               Consular and Legal Section

German Embassy Islamabad

Ramna 5, Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad, PAKISTAN

P.O. Box 1027, Islamabad, PAKISTAN

Tel:  (0092-51) 227 9430 – 35

Subject: Letter to The Federal Republic of Germany’s Embassy in Pakistan: Call for Transparency, Accountability & Action Following Reports On FinFisher’s Presence in Pakistan.

Madam Petra Speyrer

As a civil society organisation that works on upholding & securing citizen’s right to open and secure access to information, we write to you to raise the issue regarding the presence of FinFisher, sold by a GERMAN/UK company, Gamma International. This was brought to public attention through a report published by Citizen Lab, a research group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.The lab is independent from government and corporate interests, and publishes research based on evidence.

FinFisher has the ability to affect all forms of software (Mac/Apple, Windows, Android), including but not limited to all smartphones. It works as an espionage surveillance equipment, obtaining passwords for your hardware and social networks, has the ability to read an individual’s chats,listen in to  Skype calls, the capability of listening to private in-room conversations as well as stealing & emailing personal files from an individual’s device. This kind of technology has the potential to be abused & is in clear violation of international human rights laws.

Human right to privacy and free access is a universal right as made evident by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We quote Article 12 and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 12: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”.

Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

By reportedly exporting it’s equipment to countries with a questionable human rights record, Gamma is in violation of United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which identifies “a global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity”.

The reported presence and use of FinFisher is not only a violation of the multiple UN Declarations, but a grave violation of Constitutional Provisions of Human Rights of both Germany & Pakistan. Germany provides data protection through “Bundesdatenschutzgesetz or BDSG,”and the European Convention of Human Rights. According to German law, “personally identifiable information without express permission from an individual” cannot be collected or obtained without permission of individual in question; when asking for permission, it must be specified why, for how and what information is being obtained and where is the information coming from. An individual has the right to revoke the permission and all businesses and organisation must have laws that protect private data transmission that falls under BDSG laws.

Germany takes privacy laws very seriously, and is far stricter in its laws than the United Kingdom. Germany has even gone so far as to claiming a fine for Facebook for storing biometric data through a facial recognition software they use. The Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD) is an active organisation that ensures privacy measures are taken and privacy laws are upheld in the nation.

In Pakistan, an individual is protected from breach of privacy by Article 14 of the Constitution, establishing that privacy is an “inviolable right” of a citizen, something that cannot be breached under any circumstance. The right to information has been established under Article 19 and 19A of the constitution, bearing that an individual should have freedom of access, expression and information.

Recently, Bolo Bhi joined a Global Coalition that endorses 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. These principles create a framework to limit surveillance, provided legitimate reasons, legitimate transparent actions are taken in proportion to the situation at hand. It gives protection to the individual from being prosecuted or violated for no reason, while giving a legal pathway for governments and individuals to follow. It forms a compromise between the individual and the state. The principles uphold the fundamental right to privacy.

We have a reason to believe that FinFisher has been used to aid in human rights violations. The very first evidence, as per research, of the presence and use of FinFisher was in Bahrain, 2012, against pro-democratic activists. Cyber attacks were launched against journalists and activists in Bahrain that gravely compromised their security and privacy; many of the activists were sent pictures and news of tortured victims as a means to intimidate them.

Thus, the presence of such equipment in Pakistan where Journalists have been targeted throughout the years is quite frightful. Reporters Without Borders has classified Pakistan to be one of the most dangerous places to be a reporter, and the reported presence of such espionage surveillance equipment is an added threat to an already hostile environment.

More than just a violation of the constitution, FinFisher enables private information to be obtained and used illegally against the respective individual, being a possible threat to their life and liberty.

We request the German Government to assist us in seeking answers from FinFisher, that has reportedly sold technology to Pakistan with full awareness that it would be abused. We ask for assistance to hold FinFisher accountable for unethical business practice and for greater transparency and accountability in the trade. We seek assistance in disabling FinFisher command and control centres in Pakistan & call for strict action and tougher laws to hold British companies accountable as and when they are in violation of domestic, national and international laws.

We hope the German Government and all other governments around the world follow their commitment to free speech and freedom of expression and take action against western companies that sell surveillance and filtering equipment to repressive governments. Put an end to the trade that aids repression.

Yours Sincerely,

Sana Saleem

Director- Bolo Bhi

A popular trend in Provincial policy, banning mediums of exchange communication, has been seen and noted. It is being used to combat the ever increasing security threat in the nation. By banning means of communication, the government feels that they can control the exchange of information and planning of groups accused of terrorist activities, seeing that they are the only ones that use them. Foregoing the millions that use it to conduct businesses, to gain education and simply communicate with family members worldwide, the government has taken this decision solely based on, you guessed it, national security.

Let’s reflect a little on our constitutional provisions first. Article 18 of our constitution mandates that businesses and organisations are free to conduct legal business; e-commerce and all communications via any client used on the internet is protected by the Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 that legitimises, accepts and protect businesses online. What this mean is that if a business uses the internet to conduct business, formulate contract, transfer or receive any information and so on, it is protected.  It cannot be compromised, it should be comprised and definitely not encroached upon. Not sure who writes these laws, but there is indication that the ban comes from the very system that played a role in enacting them. Detailing the magnitude of the loss these businesses will face is too widespread to get into, and impossible to process by a simpleton such as myself, but rest assured, it will hit our ever declining economy.

Leaning away from businesses and economics, lets reflect on the impact it may have on  citizens who have family and loved ones all around the world. Increase in gas prices has made it too expensive to travel; work/school commitments don’t give one enough time to do so either. Phone bills are higher each day and communication just becomes more expensive by the minute. To combat the cost of communication and maintaining relationships, we use Skype, Viber, WhatsApp etc that provide us with cost effective modes to be able to keep in touch and feel connected. Its as simple as that. We want to stay in touch, and we have the resources to do so. But now, the government has decided to have a say in how we do that as well? What next will the government regulate?  Who we can or cannot talk to? It comes back to the same argument posed once before, has the government really become nannies for the citizens? (If so, Im still waiting on that college funding that was promised).

Article 9 on the constitution gives Pakistanis their liberty, and mandates thats laws cannot deprive one of their liberty. Liberty is defined as “The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life” ; how am I free if I cannot use simple means of communication? How am I free if I am limited in my ability to communicate effectively with my family or friends that live abroad? How am I free if I continue to sit back and allow my government, the ones my fellow citizens and I came together and voted in (well, at least attempted to), continue to oppress my ways of life? As little as it may seem, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and all such mediums have become a way of us to keep connected with the world beyond our borders. Its effective, efficient and immediate, just the way its needed. How is that threatening?

Now that we are talking about threats, I have my fair share,  I am threatened by policemen on the road that stop me without justifiable cause, because they want “a little extra”; I am threatened by the fact that I cannot be sure if I will have electricity all night, thereby making my day at work less productive; I am threatened by most strangers while taking a walk on the beach, because I don’t know if I’ll be protected incase I’m mugged. These are my threats;  not communication.

A general sense of security is a fundamental right, and what is to be protected by the state. That is their job; they were elected to keep me safe and uphold my rights. They are responsible to ensure that the law and order of the nation is maintained. If they fail to do their job, the only responsibility I have is to resist.  It is not the citizen’s responsibility to bear the brunt of the government’s failure. Yet, for the past decade (or possibly more) it is us citizens that have evidently taken up the roles to be our own protectors, to be our security and to bear the brunt of the incompetence the government has displayed in performing.

It is not the citizens who should be held accountable, it is the government. It is time we held our government accountable for what has happened to our cities; it is time we point fingers in the right direction. Incompetence isn’t an excuse anymore, and neither can it be tolerated. We should be the ones banning, protesting, eliminating or devolving the abuses of the government. They are the ones that have failed, not us; why are we the ones suffering?

Stop remaining silent; they have already taken away our modes of communication. If our voices are what they want to suppress, lets show them how loud we can be, shall we?

 

 A CEOs Message to the Minister

 

Ms. Anusha Rahman
Minister of State For Information Technology & Telecom
Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom,
4th Floor, Evacuee Trust Complex, Aga Khan Road,F-5/1,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Phone #: 051-9201990

 

Esteemed Minister,

We do hope you’re receiving our messages and are looking in to resolving the issue at hand. As you’ll see in today’s letter, the impact of YouTube has most businesses worried too.

Shakir Husain is the CEO of Creative Chaos, as well as a loving father. He writes to you, reemphasizing the benefits of YouTube, especially to a developing country like ours. The resources and facilities that cannot be provided by the state, are provided by  mediums such as YouTube, which helps bridge the educational gap. In today’s rapidly developing world, quality education is of utmost importance and YouTube aids in the enhancement of academic and vocational education.

Mr. Husain also mentions how alternatives to YouTube are not good alternatives because Google’s platform is incomparable; its vast audience and reach also makes it a means for Pakistanis to showcase their talents, their innovation and creativity to millions of people worldwide, painting a more positive image of Pakistan.

He also mentions YouTube’s capacity to behave as a digital campaign medium, which is beneficial to many organisations, especially NGOs/IGOs as ourselves; having limited funds but requiring wider reach, YouTube caters to all needs and aids in the promotion and awareness of campaigns.

We hope you can empathise with us Minister. YouTube has become an integral part of business functioning and citizen lives and it is almost an injustice to deprive the nation of such an important forum.

The letter is attached, please do have a look. Thank you.

Until next letter,
Bolo Bhi

Shakir Husain A CEOs Message to the Minister

 From a Mother to the Minister

 

Ms. Anusha Rahman
Minister of State For Information Technology & Telecom
Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom,
4th Floor, Evacuee Trust Complex, Aga Khan Road,F-5/1,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Phone #: 051-9201990

 

Minister Rahman,

Here we are again, self appointed liaisons between you and the citizens. Hassan Khalid’s letter asked a question worth thinking about; most of us today think along the same lines. Has anything good really come out of the ban? for that matter has censorship ever served a purpose? Has discrimination based on religion/race/nationality stopped? Regretfully not; if only censorship was the answer to hate speech.

Today’s letter is from Mobeen Ansari’s inspirational mother, Farzana Aziz. We don’t know this woman, but its safe to say that she is a role model to many, including us. She raised her son into an outstanding citizen & one of Pakistan’s most talented artists, with assistance from technology and the Internet.

It is difficult to raise children with impairment in Pakistan; there aren’t enough facilities or resources that aid in their development. Farzana learned computer skills and aided her son’s development through mediums such as YouTube. Something as little can change peoples’ lives; access provides opportunities, why restrict it?

Farzana ends her letter with a very important question as well, Minister. Have a look, and please think about it.

Thank you,

Until next letter,
Bolo Bhi

Farzanas Letter  212x300 From a Mother to the Minister

Bolobhilogofinal2 Hassan Khalids letter to the Minister

Ms. Anusha Rahman
Minister of State For Information Technology & Telecom
Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom,
4th Floor, Evacuee Trust Complex,
Aga Khan Road,F-5/1,
Islamabad, Pakistan.
Phone #: 051-9201990

Minister Rahman,

We hope you’ve had the chance to glimpse over the past letters we’ve sent you; the citizens are touched that you’ve taken the time out to receive and acknowledge the letters that Bolo Bhi has been delivering. The hope to hear from you soon, we are sure you will reply.

Today’s letter is from a very concerned citizen, Hassan A. Khalid, who is a student of Gomal University trying to earn a BS Degree in Computer Science. He has benefited from YouTube which was a means for him to learn Graphic Designing, Web Development (evidently handy in his chosen field). Before Youtube was banned Khalid use to give tutorials on YouTube after learning and educating himself in different areas of Computer Science. He began a channel on YouTube and catered to nearly 28,000 students/month, which is a really impressive number. These classes are expensive and detailed; he made it accessible, affordable and even understandable to students around the world.

We’ve restricted progress, education and knowledge, all for the sake of proving a point; the question that he asks really causes one to think, what is the point of all of this? We hope you get the chance to read this letter and empathise with the citizens of Pakistan, and the many others around the world affected by this ban.

Till the next letter,

Bolo Bhi

Hassan K Letter 212x300 Hassan Khalids letter to the Minister

The need for a clear state policy for the internet is greater today more than ever before due to the increased frequency the state has been exercising its self-appointed blanket authority in regards to the internet. Though in an ideal world a state would realise and understand the vast and dynamic nature of the internet whereby any attempt of control is redundant; a state bent on controls has to be negotiated with to at least agree to a transparent policy that leaves little room for abuse by the state and does not override the rights and interests of the citizens it seeks to govern.

With several websites blocked in Pakistan over the years (see: Content filtration over the years timeline), most notably YouTube for over a year now (see: YouTube ban timeline), and a plan by the State to put in place a URL filtration system, it is important for us as citizens to hold the State accountable for the democratic rights of the citizens it is supposed to safeguard.

For this reason, Bolo Bhi is working to archive the stance of relevant policymakers and public figures within and outside the parliament on issues relating to internet freedom, privacy, censorship, and internet governance in Pakistan. These interviews will serve three fundamental purposes.

Firstly, the video interviews will be publicly available on the internet to inform the citizens on where policymakers, public figures, and experts stand on the issue of internet freedom in Pakistan.

Secondly, these will be used to draft a policy paper that will seek to encourage dialogue and build consensus among the stakeholders on the limits to internet governance.

Lastly, the ultimate goal is three-pronged whereby the aim is to highlight the current procedure that is deployed to block content; to push for an end to ad hoc blocking; and to constitute safeguards that uphold constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, and the right to privacy as a baseline for any future regulations.

Ideally, this framework should include:

1. Clear specifications on what criteria will be employed to determine the kind of content against which action is to be taken;

2. What the process of warning and penalisation would entail;

3. A transparent record of any steps the government has taken in regards to the internet, along with the reasons for it, available publicly.

[Also see: Internet censorship in Pakistan: need for dialogue, framework, and transparency. Bolo Bhi press release. May 21, 2013)]

“144. Power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger. in cases where, in the opinion of a District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, (or of any other Executive Magistrate] specially empowered by the Provincial Government or the District Magistrate to act under this section, there is sufficient ground for proceeding under this section and immediate prevention or speedy remedy is desirable, such Magistrate may, by a written order stating the material facts of the case and served in manner provided by section 134, direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, if such Magistrate considers that such direction Is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, or an affray.”

 

Bolo Bhi recently created a timeline to determine how many times, between 2000-2013 Section 144 was imposed in the great nation of Pakistan. It is a living timeline and will continually be updated upon research and findings. The reason for conducting the research was to determine whether the state has been within its powers to impose section 144. It is available under Timelines in the Resources category on Bolo Bhi’s website.

Section 144 confers power to magistrates to restrict assembly in a certain place, in an attempt to preemptively counter any potential disturbances of peace. The authorities can also, under this section, restrict any action or possession if it is the cause of the nuisance that the authorities are trying to prevent. As per subsection 6, such an imposition may only last 2 2 months, unless lifting the ban may lead to threats to security and lives of citizens. The law here is providing an immediate solution to the state when faced with an urgent situation, and does mandate a written order (Section 134). If a written order cannot be directed to the individual(s) in question, then it must be written and published in a manner that is readily accessible and can be effectively communicated.

[A magistrate is defined as: “Any individual who has the power of a public civil officer or inferior judicial officer, such as a Justice of the Peace.” Online Legal Dictionary]

Generally being a nation notorious for violent rioting, protests and lawlessness, one can draw the conclusion that most of the time, these magistrates/ministers and public authorities seem to have made justifiable decisions.

The imposition of section 144 has generally interfered with the freedom to assemble and has some implications on the right to bear arms.

The freedom to assemble and protest is one ingrained in world laws: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 21)

European Convention on Human Rights (Article 11) American Convention on Human Rights (Article 15). Domestic laws also protect one’s right to assembly, for example, Article 16 of the Pakistani Constitution categorizes the right to assembly as a fundamental human right, with reasonable restrictions.

The right to bear/possess arms, however, is not one that can be considered a universal right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not provide for it, and countries have their own laws that govern possession. The Pakistan Arms Ordinance (1965) governs licensing and possession of arms in the nation; however it must be noted that the right to possession is NOT guaranteed by law. Private arms are also strictly prohibited in “educational institutions, hostels or boarding and lodging houses, fairs, gatherings or processions of a political, religious, ceremonial or sectarian character, and on the premises of Courts of law or public offices” [http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/pakistan]

Freedom of assembly comes with stipulations; this freedom may be revoked when the authorities may presume that such a gathering may lead to riots and violent protesting, or may endanger life and security of individuals. As made clear by the law, citizens’ right to assembly must be without arms, and should be peaceful and for just cause. Unlicensed weapons are illegal, and licenses may also be revoked at any time, even if legal.

Looking over the research, its hard to argue with the reasoning behind the impositions. As a nation accustomed and, perhaps, desensitised to violence and chaos, the state may have to take extreme countermeasures, which they should not be criticised for. It is their duty to uphold law and order in the nation, and protect their citizens, even if doing so may sometimes lead to a violation of citizen rights. The state, however, may only impose this section for up to 2 months usually, and thus should have the foresight to look into long term solutions to curb violence and terrorism.

Difficult to digest that for once, the state and I agree on something, I must, thus, highlight the times when the state has acted ultra vires. A few instances in 2006, of Lowar Sharif, and Women Rights Rally led by Mai (each different instances), or the imposition during the LLB exams in Rawalpindi. The aforementioned instances are generally non violent assemblies, for justified reason, and the “injury” or “danger” in these events cannot be clearly identified. Another instance that should be mentioned here is the post election protests of 2013. Being denied our constitutional and democratic right to vote, the people of the nation, peacefully, marched out on the street to demand things to be made right; a Section 144 being imposed on this event can be seen as a negative step taken by the state. It would be miraculous if the government had managed to do something flawlessly, and may have even given a cynical individual as myself some hope. But that is just wishful thinking.

 An activist, in the hopes of finding yet another instance of an abuse of power, embarked on this research, which ended up in being without controversy; the media headlines, the written text and reporting, however, delivered the news in a way that on first glance, one immediately assumed overstepping of mandates. But after reviews and follow ups on the media text, the government’s decision and imposition can be understood.

The law does give them the power to limit the mentioned rights in order to prevent damage and injury, and protect its citizens from instances of harm and danger. On the other hand an argument can be made instead of the ban, the government should look into long term solutions to avoid these events all together. For instance, the government could designate an area for those who choose to fly kites and provide certain rules and regulations to limit injury, or develop small water parks for people to relieve themselves from the heat. Certain activities of citizens can be identified as annual, and/or regular, at a certain time of the year and thus, the patterns can be established and alternate solutions can be found.

However, what is significant that the research has helped identify a potential distrust and lawlessness of the nation. Despite bans/restrictions being placed, citizens continued to carry out the banned actions; it could be the distrust of intentions of their government, or frankly, a lack of concern to uphold the law. Case in point, the ban of kite flying; year after year people die as a result of carelessness, yet the society continues to participate in this activity. Or the ban on swimming in the sea; high tides causing drowning, spread of waterborne diseases (indicated by health reports) didn’t deter citizens from escaping to the beach in search of relief from the heat. This blatant disregard for authority and law is evident in the behaviour of citizens Yet, we complain if the government takes unreasonable and aggressive stances in order to compel the citizens to abide by the law.

Its important for citizens to recognise the role they place in implementing the law. Policing and punishment can only do so much; it is the job of every citizen to uphold the law and respect it, and inspire others to do the same. We shouldn’t complain about the law if we don’t follow it; what good are written laws if one doesn’t understand the importance of them? So today, if you get pulled over (for a justified reason hopefully), make sure to not bribe the policeman to get away with it, take that ticket/fine, and abide by the traffic laws. You can’t complain about the corrupted if you are the corrupter now, can you?

Unsurprisingly, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has now been given a say in determining what material can be deemed appropriate and moral. Besides the obvious that the government wants to uphold Islamic principles, (please don’t confuse yourself by believing that Islamic principles preach tolerance, love and humanity), the CII would also like to view the material “first”hand, since unviewed and untouched material must always be the choice.

 On a serious note, I’d like to question the logic behind the decision. If my viewing of said inappropriate material makes me a sinner, then shouldn’t their viewing of the material do the same? It is a little confusing for me, as such a simpleton, to understand this decision. Is it because their faith is stronger than mine? Is it because they can control their urges better than I can? If it is a crime and sin to watch such content why look for it in the first place?

 Besides the fact that we now allow the Ministry and CII to assume our capabilities and strengths, we are also allowing them to make decisions on our behalf. Why must the government be the ones responsible for upholding our morals? Shouldn’t that be our upbringing? Since when has the government assumed the role of our “parents”? And if parenting is what the state hopes to do, then they’ve set some pretty bad examples. Case in point the bombing of the Church in Peshawar, the breaking down of the minarets of an Ahmadi mosque, or say, my ever increasing school loans. Hey, out of the 3, I’d really appreciate if you paid attention to the third one; I was told that as my parents, you’d help pay for school!

 Where is the states ‘parenthood’ when its citizens A.K.A offsprings are being murdered in cold blood, when the children of the state are being orphaned, left homeless and being discriminated against? Where is the state looking out for my well being, when I as i youth is struggling with increasing educational expenses?

 If the government has decided to have a say in our lives, then right now, most importantly, I’d urge them to take a good look into our security issues, as well as our future. The current job market looks bleak, we can’t go out on the road without the fear of being mugged, or even kidnapped and shot at. Little girls and boys can’t play in parks without the fear of being raped. And worst of all, we can’t pray in our place of worship if it is different than the one the majority prays in.

 All the while YouTube was blocked, violence still prevailed, physical and sexual abuse still occurred, those committing sins and blasphemy still existed. It’s irrational to blame a website for all the bad things happening around us. But why are those that want to obtain information, for education and entertainment purposes, be the ones that are being punished? It is not education or information that causes violence, rape, abuse or any other such actions, it is an individual. Murderers are set free here, extremists are allowed to roam freely, but the flow of information is banned and treated like the problem. Is the state too blind to see what the issues are? People kill people, not the internet.

 It seems to me that the state has adopted ad hocness and irrationality as its modus operandi. How else do you define, a state which decides to ban comparative studies in order to make faith in one’s religion stronger; but are unable to prevent an attack on a place of worship or protect its citizens. To make your faith stronger, the government allowed murderers to go free, based on Islamic principles, because Islam does not believe in justice. To make your faith stronger, your government banned pornographic material, but allowed for gang rapists and pedophiles to roam around freely, because DNA evidence does not prove anything- after all, it is just science and facts, not principles and blind faith. I am not sure what faith the government believes to be following, it is definitely not Islam but a mockery of it and any other faith that exists.

 I beg the public and every citizen to raise your voice; I urge you to speak up and see how the government has digressed from its actual job and forgotten the purpose of its creation and establishment. We do not need net nannies to govern us, we need governance, upholding of law & order, we want justice and rights for all; unequivocally.