ZOE VICCAJI/ ZOHAIB KAZI: Dear Mr Rehman Malik and other authorities concerned:
While we appreciate the fact that the ban on the video-sharing website YouTube may have valid reasons behind it, we request you to kindly review our petition and reconsider this decision. By no means are we questioning your judgement; we are only putting forth how adversely it has affected the artist community of Pakistan, as well as the educational sector.
In light of the state of affairs all over the world, art, knowledge and entertainment are an escape not only for people like us but for the general audience as well. They are an escape from the mundane world into unknown pastures of adventure. We, who represent the Indus Valley Civilisation — one of the oldest and most advanced urban civilisations of its time — have appreciation of beauty encrypted into our DNA. We are who we are. History is a witness to the fact that we belong to a region that has provided the world with abundant treasures. We are the true torchbearers of this long-standing tradition of art.
As a nation with such a rich cultural background, how can we possibly think of putting up such obstructions in the fields of knowledge and art? YouTube is a medium that provides a platform for both. It is a library of today and an archive for tomorrow — an archive from which we will be missing.
For years, we have seen the suppression of artistic freedom, and finally, we had a platform that makes it possible for anyone and everyone to share their work and have it seen or heard — an opportunity that no other civilisation has ever had. It brings to people a set of various perspectives and possibilities, encouraging them to learn independently and think as individuals. How can we possibly keep ourselves isolated?
This letter found its beginnings in our frustration with our inability to connect to the world. We are trying to release our work, which carries months and months of effort of many others as well, but without the support of a platform like YouTube, we feel severely handicapped.
Although many people have complained bitterly about the shutting down of cell phone services, we can appreciate that it has been effective in saving lives. We appreciate the practical steps that you are taking to make this country a safe place for us. However, another factor in making our country a better place to live in is the image that is projected of Pakistan to the rest of the world. The fact is that we are a country full of talent, tolerance, art and culture. One of the main channels through which this image of Pakistan is showcased to the world is through YouTube. The banning of it goes against our image as a moderate, forward-looking and progressive country, run by an enlightened and democratic government.
We have faith in every Pakistani and, therefore, we have faith in our government. Above all, we have faith in the understanding of a person of your stature. We hereby request you to please reconsider your stance regarding the ban on YouTube, and reopen this important channel that connects us to the global community.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2013.
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