By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
The dystopian novel by George Orwell, titled “1984” was first published in 1949, discusses the life of Winston Smith who is frustrated by the omnipresent eyes of Big Brother. This entity is a group working from behind the curtains aiming to control the lives of the people. Unfortunately, we are not living in very different times as shown in the novel.
The blackout of digital media websites in Pakistan on Friday, April 16, 2021, was nothing but an attempt by the concerned authorities to keep a certain faction within the confines of order. Without dwelling much on what happened on the streets of Pakistan during the days leading to the blackout, one must wonder what the future holds for freedom of speech. It is indeed the right of every citizen to speak their heart out and to communicate their thoughts and ideas to the masses. However, to do so while damaging the public property or to hinder in the daily routine of the city and the country is not recommended at all. One must obey and adhere to the laws governing the dynamics of society.
Here, the objectives of the government blacking out digital media are also not aligned with the freedom of speech. To blackout, social media websites for two to three hours show the government’s competency to counter any retaliation from any faction that may arise within the country. It also suggests that by blocking such websites, the government might feel comfortable containing any uprising – in any form that may occur. Truth be told, a faction that is well-connected needs no digital media website to mobilize. The factions of the society who have the intention to share their thoughts and demands must do so within the limits of decency. This will help in creating a positive image of themselves and the government will also facilitate their demands if done with modesty and respect.