The Pakistan Government and the PTA have been quite keen on banning things as of late. As we covered previously, the app Bigo has been banned and TikTok has been given a final warning, a YouTube ban has been in the talks since a court hearing on Wednesday, and PUBG had heretofore been banned indefinitely. Yesterday it was announced that a hundred books deemed against Islam and Pakistan have been banned from school curriculum.
Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Amir Farooq, listened to a petition filed against the ban on PUBG and reached a decision ordering the PTA to revoke the ban.
The case against the ban was strengthened by the local e-sports team, Freestyle, who won PUBG MOBILE Club Open (PMCO) Spring Split Pakistan, and were to represent Pakistan in the PUBG Mobile World League 2020. Team Freestyle decided to participate using a VPN but PUBG officials were against this move, issuing a statement,
“Unfortunately, the team won’t be allowed to play in the PMWL as long as the game is banned in Pakistan. We are very sorry for this, but we cannot go against the government’s laws. The team will still receive weekly attendance prize money even if you are not playing. Let’s hope the government unbans the game as soon as possible.”
Pakistan has just started to become noticed for its e-sports talent thanks to players like Sumail Hassan who The International 2015 and unified EVO champion Arsalan Ash Siddiqui. Pakistan being given a spot in the PUBG tournament is a great opportunity for more talent to come forth and even if the team does not win, it will be a great learning experience for these young players. Furthermore, with the economy looking more and more bleak, especially since the pandemic, shutting down such opportunities for people to earn a living seems really harmful.
Arsalan “Ash” Siddiqui, who won two back to back EVO Tekken tournaments last year becoming the first and only player crowned the unified EVO champion in Tekken, also decried the ban in a video on his YouTube channel. He was also given the honor of the ESPN e-sports player of the year 2019 winning three ESPN awards. He has since helped develop the local gaming scene which has just started to blossom resulting in multiple players from Pakistan getting sponsorships from big companies like Redbull.
To lift BAN on PUBG, I am filing a petition, in Sind High Court , I will not allow anyone to destroy digital growth of Pakistan, here’s how you can fight legally for protecting Esports. https://t.co/4nAb5eb1NF #UNBANPUBG #pubgbaninpakistan
— Waqar Zaka (@ZakaWaqar) July 2, 2020
The case against the ban was also supported by a strong presence on social media with #pubgbaninpakistan trending on twitter. Television personality and online influencer Waqar Zaka was one of the people spearheading the movement and since the IHC decision, #thankyouwaqarzaka has been trending. #ITMinisterResignKaro has also been trending with people, including Waqar Zaka, asking the IT minister to resign for allowing such a thing to happen.
Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that he had hoped the IT minister, Aminul Haque, would take action and not let PTA ban the game. Haque, on the other hand responded that making such decision is not under his jurisdiction but that the authority is overseen by the Cabinet Division.
The game had been banned since July 1st, citing “numerous complaints against PUBG wherein it is stated that the game is addictive, wastage of time and poses a serious negative impact on the physical and psychological health of children.” The Lahore High Court had given PTA the directive to conduct a hearing to reach a decision. In response, petitions against the ban were filed in both the Sindh High Court and Islamabad High Court.
PTA had also asked the developers to share data on PUBG, listing its users in Pakistan and regulatory measures. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority seems to be more interested in getting its hands on information regarding people’s online activities and less interested in consulting parties affected by its decisions.