Earlier this week, a report was released by the Digital Media Wing (DMW) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting titled, ‘Anti-State Trends: Deep Analytics Report’. The report had glaring errors as it tried to ‘analyse’ hashtags on Twitter to determine anti-state activities. The Current published an analytical report after going through the report page by page. The report mostly had screenshots of tweets that the government has deemed ‘anti-state’ and included tweets that were responding to some hashtags. Some hashtags in the report were there just for the sake of putting them there and labelling people ‘anti-state’. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has clarified that no Pakistani was declared anti-state in the DMW report but it was done to expose Indian bots. A disclaimer was also added after journalist Fereeha Idrees raised the issue as her name was also part of the report. Despite the disclaimer, the report’s name and a press conference by the Information Minister as well as National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf show that the government takes Twitter too seriously, as seriously as it takes media criticism.
Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) slammed the report for including journalists and political opponents in this report. It is indeed worrying that this trend of dishing out patriotism certificates has not stopped despite the fact that we have seen how dangerous it can be. Today is Pakistan’s Independence Day. We hope that our leaders will understand that all Pakistanis love Pakistan and their love or dissent does not mean it makes their patriotism any less. We all want Pakistan to prosper and we should not think that criticising the flawed policies of a state does not mean that such people should be labelled ‘traitors’ or ‘anti-state’. These tags have very serious repercussions in Pakistan.
It was also disturbing to see that the Noor Mukadam case was also mentioned in the report just because Indian channels also made reports about the case. It should not have been part of the report. The US did not call the Black Lives Matter movement ‘anti-state’. It was covered the world over. A state should not be so insecure. Dissent is a fundamental part of strengthening democracy. On this Independence Day, let us hope our leaders are more tolerant of dissenting views and objective criticism. Pakistan Zindabad!