PTA’s legal counsel had alleged the popular online game contained ‘anti-Islam’ material without offering any evidence
The Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered the government to end a ban on popular online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)—mere hours after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had stated that the ban would continue.
Justice Amir Farooq announced the decision to end restrictions on PUBG in his ruling on a petition challenging PTA’s ban, which had been reserved last week. In the last hearing, the judge had said the PTA should have taken the advice of psychiatrists and other relevant experts before taking the extreme decision to ban the game.
In response, the PTA’s lawyer had alleged, without any evidence—and contrary to the organization’s public statements on the matter—that the game had been banned because it contained “some anti-Islam” material.
The IHC verdict comes mere hours after the PTA had issued a press release claiming the ban would continue. “PTA has decided that online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) remains blocked. The decision has been made by the Authority after a detailed hearing conducted in PTA on July 9 on the directions of the Lahore High Court,” it said. “Other interested parties also attended the hearing. PTA has approached PUBG management to share data about PUBG sessions and users in Pakistan and controls in place by the company. However, response from PUBG is awaited,” it added.
The PTA, on July 1, had announced that it was “temporarily” banning access to PUBG in Pakistan, claiming it had received multiple complaints from different segments of society about its negative effects on society. It had also cited media reports that a few cases of suicide had been attributed to the game.
The decision had prompted mass outrage on social media, with the game’s players slamming the government for removing a potential revenue source for them, and for taking action against a game that is played by all segments of society.