Pakistan government on Wednesday banned Indian website, “India Today” for publishing a picture of Army Chief Raheel Sharif, that shows him in a humiliating light. On logging in to the website a government generated message reads that the site the user is trying to access has been prohibited for the viewers in Pakistan. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has been given the powers to block any website that provides ‘offensive material’ on the internet. The PTA, it seems has received direct orders from the authorities to block the Indian website after the Lahore High court ordered a petitioner to take the issue to the Federal government. Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court had shunned the petition asking for the blocking of “India Today” for publishing pictures of its army chief General Raheel Sharif.
Indian media has been abuzz with the latest ban by the Pakistani government on the Indian website after it had banned all the Indian channels on televisions following All India Radio’s announcement of broadcasting in Balochi languages. While both the countries have had a history of violence and enmity in the past which has become more severe under the moderate curtains of diplomacy, they stand together in banning of programmes criticising the authorities in the countries. Earlier in May, Pakistan had tried to achieve an impossible target of banning 4,00,000 porn sites. What is funny, though, is that of the 4,29,343 websites that were to be banned, thousands were just websites related to entertainment, education, medical services, fashion sites etc with no pornographic content. This certainly reminds of the one act of the Indian government, that the whole nation stood up against, irrespective of the difference between their numerous gods and ethnicities.
Both the countries in the past, in their own ways of following the dominant religious rules that govern their governments have attempted to ban certain acts of “freedom of expression” by boxing them into the ‘against the culture’ category. People criticising the governments or anything close to an authority in both the countries have faced criminal charges too often. Certain fundamental rights such as the right to choice of food have been attacked with utmost ferocity leading to severe casualties and often death. India has banned films based on themes, its Draconian ‘ethics’ do not recognise, and so has Pakistan. The Indian Censor board also has developed a recent habit of putting a ban on movies or worse, scissoring down of scenes it deems unfit for the audiences (Read: Children) to watch irrespective of the age group they belong to. It can only be explained by the fact that both the countries share the same history in the matters of draconian laws. Both the countries condemn and criminally punish homosexuality.
India and Pakistan’s long battle, both on and off the field for Kashmir is well known to the world. But what slips relatively under all the emotions of animosity are similarities in laws, mindsets, governments and ethics both the nations so deeply share. Though, in all fairness Pakistan does come a little low in the rankings of basic Human Rights. But, India being the competitive neighbours, are well on the path.