Internet is blamed for a lot of things in Pakistan, particularly with how azaad khayal young people are becoming. Desi parents have taken turns in pointing out how the internet has ruined the new generation.
If you have heard your parents say any of the things below, welcome to the club:
“Har wakt iss phone mein ghussay rehtay hou. Kya nikaal rahay ho?”
“Mene akhbaar mein parha tha, yeh internet achi cheese nahi hai. Mat istamaal kiya karo.”
“Humaray zamanay mein toh aisi cheezain nahi hoti theen. Ghar ke kaam karatay they hum.”
But this report will prove you and everyone else wrong because it shows how much freedom Pakistanis really have on the internet
The Freedom on the Net 2017 report by Freedom House shows some very gruesome stats for Pakistan.
- Pakistan has ranked 71 on a list of 100 countries, in terms of internet freedom
- Pakistan has a total population of 193.2 million, out of which only 15.5% has access to internet
From 2011 to 2017, this is what Pakistan’s trajectory has been in terms of internet freedom
This means that over time, the freedom offered on the internet in the country has decreased. And a very minute number of the population has access to it.
In terms of obstacles to access to internet, Pakistan is on number 19 out of 25
The reason why people find accessibility problems is because of lack of a proper infrastructure and resources. Also because users have to pay a lot of tax. There is 14 percent federal tax plus additional sales tax on the usage of internet.
While urban areas enjoy the service of broadband, rural areas still have to rely on slow dial up services or EDGE.
Then, there are parts of Pakistan which have not been given access due to conflict. These areas include Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). Internet services were prohibited in FATA back in 2016 because of security reasons and have not been restored yet. In Balochistan, people do have access to internet but a majority of the underdeveloped areas lack the fibre optics connection.
Pakistan scored really poorly in terms of limits on cotent
20 out of 35 is what Pakistan scored. This is because there is strict scrutiny of social, religious and political content on the internet in Pakistan. This means that a lot of the content is already sifted through and for many, it restricts the usage of the internet.
And a lot of the content is also removed because it is considered not appropriate.
Here is the glimpse of the overall stats in the country:
What does this “Freedom on the Net” report mean for Pakistan?
When a large chunk of the population does not have access to the internet, it poses a huge threat to progressive ideas. Pakistan is a democratic state, which promises freedom of expression but these stats prove otherwise. There is not just strict scrutiny of the content but people have also been punished for either liking something on the internet or expressing their perspective over something. What this means is that the strict control will keep the opinions in check and will refrain the dissenting voices from reaching out to a larger audience. And that will ultimately be very damaging.
A case in point was the Mashal Khan incident. He spoke out against the admin of the university and it took one frape for people to label him blasphemous and end his life. This cannot be taken lightly.
Here’s what fellow Pakistanis think:
An annual report by the Freedom House puts #Pakistan among the worst countries with the Internet freedom with 71 out of 100 , two points down from the last year.
Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 made the censorship stronger especially for the remote areas.#Balochistan pic.twitter.com/8qxhaSxzRs
— Baloch Freedom Front (@BalochFreedomF) November 16, 2017
State has failed in protecting right of freedom of speech & expression of its citizens. Internet shutdowns in the already disrupted areas of #Pakistan along with increased surveillance have led to further censorship in online platforms in Pakistan.https://t.co/1464XquTCw
— Vishal Sehgal (@VishalSehgal4U) November 16, 2017
The #NetFreedom2017 report further notes that the Internet Freedom Status for the year 2017 has in fact worsened for Pakistan from that in 2016. With the ranking of 18 out of 25 for Obstacles to Access for 2016, the bar sits at 19 for the year 2017. https://t.co/v2QgL4r7F9
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) November 14, 2017
Pakistan ranks “Not Free” fr 6th consecutive year n the Freedom on the Net Report. It says mobile internet service ws shut down fr more than a year n Federally Administered Tribal Areas,starting n June 2016.
Internet Freedom Status worsened fr Pakistan frm that in 2016, it says
— Tahir Khan (@taahir_khan) November 14, 2017
Do you think that Pakistan still needs to push itself a little more in terms of internet freedom?
Cover image via: pilpnjcm.nl