Pakistan court orders PUBG to be unbanned

The PTA had blocked it on July 1
Artwork: Obair Khan/SAMAA Digital
Artwork: Obair Khan/SAMAA Digital

The Islamabad High Court has ordered the PTA to unblock online game Players’ Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) while approving a petition filed against the Authority's decision to ban the game in Pakistan.

Justice Aamer Farooq announced the verdict on Friday. It was earlier reserved on July 14. The court will soon issue a detailed verdict, directing the PTA to make any future decisions on bans after listening to all stakeholders.

The court has ordered the PTA to unblock the game immediately and explain their reasoning behind banning the game.

The petition was filed jointly by PUBG players and a local game-control company.

The PTA had said on Thursday that the ban it imposed on online game Players' Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) will remain in place.

The authority had asked the game developers to share data about PUBG sessions, its users in Pakistan and regulatory measures, but no response has been received yet.

People on Twitter are calling for the Information Technology Minister Aminul Haque's resignation for "not restricting the PTA from blocking the game".

However, on Sunday, Haque said the authority doesn't fall under his ministry.

Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry had expressed his hope that the IT minister would take note of it and the PTA would be instructed not to encourage such bans as they hinder technological growth in the long run.

In response, Haque had said the IT Ministry does not have control over the PTA. The authority is overseen by the Cabinet Division, he said. Haque added that he was also against restrictions that could hamper progress.

A temporary ban was imposed on the battle royale game on July 1. The authority said it received “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.”

It had asked people who want the ban removed to send emails with their reservations by July 10.

Petitions were filed against the ban in the Sindh High Court and the Islamabad High Court. On July 6, the Islamabad High Court sent the petition against the suspension of the game to the PTA.

PUBG, which has been developed by a South Korean company, is a 2017 survival game in which players are dropped onto an island to battle it out against others.

TV show host Waqar Zaka believes politicians need to speak on this issue in Parliament. “We want Federal Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry to not just tweet, but legislate on the matter and do some practical work. Otherwise, we’ll demand his resignation as well,” he said.

Zaka has been raising his voice to unblock PUBG since it was banned. He had also filed a petition in the Sindh High Court against the ban.

The PTA had cited increasing suicides as a reason to ban the online game, but Zaka claimed that he has spoken to the families of the children who died by suicide and the reality is different.

“One child had a bipolar disorder and another died over a failed relationship with a girl. The game doesn’t have anything to do with suicide,” he claimed. “You don’t burn an entire library just because a few books are not suitable for you.”

“Did the PTA even consult a mental health expert before attributing suicide to PUBG?” asked Farieha Aziz of Bolo Bhi, adding that banning something never brings a sudden change in society.



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