The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), shown here conducting a spectrum auction in 2014 is the country's Internet regulator. Photo: AFP / Aamir Qureshi

The debate on whether the digital sector is the future is over. We are living in a time when it has become a reality, and it has been so for many years now. Everything has been digitized and it has made many things more convenient for people. In a world that is now fighting a pandemic, the digital sector and its further advancement are even more important.

In June, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) asked Internet users to register their virtual private networks or face a ban. This request is ironic because the whole point of a VPN is to bypass government restrictions. Pakistan definitely does not have the best record when it comes to Internet or media freedom in general, but such a request does raise alarms over the competence of the PTA.

Recently the PTA banned the popular game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for having a negative impact on youth. While it could certainly be argued that the game can be addictive, there are other solutions to that problem than an outright ban.

Pakistan’s e-sports sector has a lot of potential, as people have seen in the case of Tekken 7 player Arsalan Ash. E-sports is a major industry and it can generate a lot of revenue for Pakistan if the government pays attention to this instead of seeing it as a waste of time.

As for the case of PUBG being addictive, children and parents should seek professional help if that is indeed a problem. By following the PTA’s logic on banning it, there a lot of other things that are having a negative impact on youth. How many websites or applications is the PTA going to ban instead of trying to focus on fixing the problem and taking advantage of a major new sector?

Pakistani Television host and social-media star Waqar Zaka speaking on the PUBG ban also made good points regarding Pakistan’s YouTube ban some years ago that led to many people in an upcoming industry lagging behind, and as a result the country is suffering in terms of quality content.

There is a problem in Pakistan when it comes to the digital sector, but instead of addressing that problem, the government is focusing on other things that are doing more harm than good.  

Digital literacy is really important for Pakistan’s digital sector. There should be a strict emphasis on digital literacy on the government’s part to equip people for this modern age. As well, regulatory bodies such as the PTA should be put in the hands of people who have knowledge on how the digital sector operates so as to create a healthy digital atmosphere that will benefit Pakistan.

Otherwise, Pakistan is going to lag behind in another important sector, something this country will regret later on.

Turyal Azam Khan is a Pakistani writer, blogger, and journalist who mainly focuses on current affairs, social issues, lifestyle, and culture. He has written for Daily Times, Dunya Blogs, EACPE, The Nation, Naya Daur, Surkhiyan, The Times of Israel, Street Buzz, IBC English, Mashable Pakistan and The Diplomat.

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