Following hot in the footsteps of the controversial Draw Mohammed Day, Lahore High Court has issued orders to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block facebook up till the 31st of May on an petition lodged by Islamic Lawyers Movement on Tuesday
Daily Times: Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority secretary to reply until Wednesday (today), on a petition seeking a ban on Facebook, which is holding a competition of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Islamic Lawyers Movement filed the petition through Chaudhry Zulfiqar advocate, who stated that a competition was announced on Facebook on April 20 which would continue until May 20, asking all the members of the website to create their caricatures to participate in the competition
Tribune reports that PTA urged the court to only ban those particular pages showing the offensive drawings. It is said PTA still awaits the orders when they will be handed down from the Ministry of IT, after which a nationwide ban will go into effect on facebook.com
I believe this is an overkill on an issue that could have been handled easily by placing a filter/block on the particular offending Draw Mohammed Day Facebook page URL. It must also be noted that the Draw Mohammed Day campaign has registered an official website which is no where mentioned within the petition or the court judgment and remains freely accessible. Blocking a website with the hope that the evil curse shall disappear is counterproductive and only draws more attention to the issue.
In 2006 Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry ordered the PTA to block 12 website on a petition filed by Dr. Mohammed Imram Uppal which resulted in the blocking of 10 million blogs hosted on blogspot.com, at that time PTA did not have the ability to block a particular URL and the filters that it had installed on the Hubs catered for only filtering out IP level blocks which forced PTA to block the blogspot.com IP and hence all the blogs located on its sub-domains were rendered blacklisted for Pakistani, this continue for a good 18 months until Google upgraded its servers and changed the IP, PTA never reacted hence forth. Since a good two years PTA has some very high end cutting edge technology and they are able to block any URL on the internet, to youtube videos being blocked at the whims of politicians and even some Anti-Pakistan propaganda that the government may deem unhealthy for Pakistanis.
Blocking the entire facebook, that too for a good 11 days until the 31st of May is mind boggling, it would render only about 2 millions Pakistanis hungry for their daily dose of social networking, but it sends a wrong message to the world.
While I may halfheartedly agree with a particular ban on the offending Draw Mohammed Day page, but I must condemn the across the board ban by Lahore High Court, it does little to solve the problem, we as peaceful Pakistanis were lobbying to force Facebook to block the groups activities, our outreach was peaceful and with a definite commitment we had condemned this issue to such a strong degree that we might have possibly been on the verge of a break through, to be honest no one from the Muslim world was so emotionally charged lobbying against this group as we were here in Pakistan, now they have a free reign to celebrate the Draw Mohammed Day. to have won, while our government simply forced us to keep our eye closed.
Why should the people of Pakistan suffer for an action committed elsewhere, it may have better been to order a Pakistani lawyer to represent the people of Pakistan filing a lawsuit in the jurisdiction of Facebook and accuse them to having violated their own terms of service listed on their own website. It may have taught them a lesson to not repeat such a mistake again. Little good this ban shall do now in Pakistan.