In the first week of July, the famous arcade game PUBG (Players Underknown’s BattleGround) was banned by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). This decision was overturned by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on July 24, effectively revoking the ban.
This decision comes as a surprise because the PTA tweeted at 1 AM on July 24 saying that the ban on PUBG will stay. However, the IHC lifted the ban close to noon on the same day. Justice Amir Farooq ordered the reinstatement of the game. Local media, Geo News, reported it.
The decision to ban PUBG was taken on July 9, after conducting hearings in the Lahore High Court based on a local petition.
Pakistani Twitter users rose up in large numbers, asking authorities to lift the ban. This uproar included the gaming community, which said that PUBG was a substantial part of their income, earned from live-streaming their games and creating playthroughs. Certain gaming-affiliated companies also sponsor some of these gamers.
Civil rights activists and social media influencers also demanded that the government lift the ban, saying that this move by the government is a step backward in the development of a digital Pakistan.
UNBAN KARDIA PUBG KO – JO BOLTA HOON WOH KARTA HOON https://t.co/MUFEfBtIib
— Waqar Zaka (@ZakaWaqar) July 24, 2020
However, after two weeks of absence, PUBG is all set to be revived in Pakistan at the behest of the Islamabad High Court.
Why was PUBG banned?
PUBG has been downloaded approximately 34 million times in the world now. However, PTA states that they received complaints from citizens that the arcade-survival game is detrimental to children and young adults’ physical and psychological health and that it ‘promotes violence‘. On July 1, the PTA decided to temporarily suspend the game in the country with no fixed date of revoking the suspension.
Some media have reported that suicide cases were tied to the game, which added weight to the decision to ban PUBG. This has led the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ask PUBG to share data about users and sessions in the country. PUBG did not respond to this.
Pakistan on censorship spree?
After Pakistani authorities banned PUBG, they also banned BIGO Live, a live streaming app. BIGO Live was an essential commodity for online content creators. They also sent a warning to Chinese social media app TikTok over concerns of ‘vulgar content’, and the Pakistani Supreme Court also hinted at banning YouTube.
In conclusion, while several apps and websites were banned or suspended by Pakistani authorities, PUBG has made its way back online.