Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered Pakistan Telecom Authority to block nine websites in Pakistan, which purportedly contain the blasphemous contents.
The decision was taken in response to a petition filed by a retire civil servant for the ban on the websites including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and YouTube. The LHC ordered an interim ban on these sites without any consultation with the information technology experts regarding the issue and alternatives to deal with it.
It is a moment to take a pause and reflect on what on earth is going on. What madness has gone in all of us? How are our courts reacting and why?
Firstly what is blasphemy in itself is another issue, which we have written on somewhere else. But even if we put that event aside, is the blocking of these websites the only and the best available solution to cope with the issue? And if the order is implemented, how is it going to impact the millions of internet users all over Pakistan, who depend on these search engines for news, information, emails, education, research, business and numerous other constructive purposes?
Anyone having knowledge of internet knows that search engines are designed in a way that they show up the score of results matching the search keys put in by the user. So, it is very much in control of the user what s/he wants to look for and also to choose whether or not to visit the links these search engines show.
Common sense logic can help in this matter. If we take the example of human mind, it can scientifically, think of all kinds of thoughts and ideas, irrespective of their conformity with any particular code, belief or religion. But what we choose or avoid thinking is our decision, to a great extent if not completely.
The issue of screening blasphemous contents on internet, therefore, needs to be dealt by the authorities competent to handle with it technically and rationally.
And in any event, the opinion of an individual, the petitioner, is not enough for the high authorities like courts to make a decision which involves millions of other stakeholders…not a judicious act.