The government needs to stop embarrassing itself

The tragedy of the government of Pakistan is that they seem entirely unaware of just how embarrassingly asinine their ideas tend to be, particularly as they relate to matters of the technology industry. The government wants the US-based technology giants – Facebook, Google, Amazon etc. – to set up offices in Pakistan, but at the same time will continue to threaten to ban  their services, or – more laughably still – set up ‘Pakistani alternatives’ to these companies.

The latest in the long line of lunacy from the federal cabinet is the notion that Pakistan can somehow create its own equivalent of Netflix. The idea that the government of Pakistan could possibly manage to create a workable alternative to a content and technology giant that spends upwards of $8 billion a year on content acquisition alone would be hysterically funny, were it not for the stated reason for doing so: the government wants to control what people can watch.

Why is this administration obsessed with what people can do with their lives and minds and time? What is this obsessive need to control other people’s behaviour? And yet, miraculously, the government seems strangely absent when people are murdered on trumped up accusations relating to religion, or when the children of our fellow citizens – who happen to have a religion other than Islam – are abducted and heinously abused in the name of religion.

The government is effectively giving us the worst of all worlds: all the instincts of bigoted authoritarians with none of the supposed efficiency that is supposed to come with such regimes. Of course, we are being somewhat facetious: the truth is that authoritarian regimes are not actually more efficient than democratic ones. They are just able to look that way because there is no free press asking questions about their decision-making processes.

We are in theory – and aspire to be in practice – a liberal democracy with a capitalist economy. We leave it to others more eloquent to explain the political and philosophical reasons as to why it is not the government’s business to try to control people’s lives. We will restrict ourselves to pointing out that unfree societies tend to not make creative, dynamic, forward-moving economies.

We sincerely hope the government will stop embarrassing itself – and us as its citizens – in its ham-fisted attempts to control all the wrong things.

Farooq Tirmizi
The writer was previously, managing editor, Profit Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Excellent article. Extreme censorship will make it impossible for anyone to make a living off of social media, which seems to be the only option as traditional jobs disappear due to AI and automation.

  2. The problem here is that the parties such as PML-N, PPP and other liberal democratic parties have had decades in power and have nothing to show.
    Be it the abysmally poor education standards, health. We have a generation of stunted young adults because of a lack of food. You name the key indicator – we’re at the bottom of it.

    When you ask them why are things so poor they all have their own myriad of excuses.

    The PTI is no doubt wasting it’s time with these initiative. Our mullahs are as corrupt as anybody. However we have tasted the fruits of the PML-N and who can forget the PPP rule.
    Let’s try something new. It may work, it may not. But dynasty Sharif/Bhutto/Zardari rule will almost certainly get us no where.

  3. If PTI fails then so be it. Perhaps something new can emerge from it.
    We have sent scientists, engineers abroad for further education. Surely we can put together a government of technocrats.
    Politics is a filthy game in this feudal country. Our electable politicians are comparable to the feudal lords of the past. They care little but for their own welfare.

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