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Is the PTA the most powerful entity in Pakistan?

Is the PTA the most powerful entity in Pakistan?

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This opinion has been authored by ProperGaanda’s viewer, Nasar Qadir. The views and opinions represented in this article represent those of the author alone and do not represent the views and opinions of ProperGaanda. To submit your articles, email us at info@propergaanda.com

In any society, the most uneasy question to ponder upon is the question of power: where does power really exist? Is government the most powerful entity of society, thereby making government officials the most powerful people in society? Or perhaps the armed forces can be termed as being most powerful because of their specialized weapons and superior technology? These might be the most obvious answers, but they are almost never true.

The problem with identifying power is that it’s never really obvious. Too many elements of society want to pose as if they hold true power, but that’s only because their existence depends on them being a poser. Think of the rich pharaohs of ancient Egypt who had to display extravagance and luxury, and frequently used brute force, to convince society that the pharaohs had power. But we know that such displays were simply theatrical. It was a tool that served as an illusion to hide the fragility of the pharaohs who were always vulnerable to being overthrown and replaced.

Before we attempt to identify power, perhaps we should define it. Oxford does a reasonable job: “the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.” In other words, anything or anyone that can change how people behave or how situations in our daily life play out, has power. In this way, the Sindh government has power by telling us what date we can send our children to school. Similarly, the armed forces deter us from staging a violent revolution, thereby influencing our behavior.

Surprisingly, the expression of power by the Sindh government or the armed forces are dwarfed by the powers of Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) and it’s director, Nisar Awan. By influencing what Pakistani citizens learn, how they entertain themselves, and who they communicate with, the PTA is arguably the most powerful entity in Pakistan.

Far too often PTA has made us aware about their power. Most recently, they have become moral police officers by banning TikTok, deciding what you should consider ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’ without ever defining either term. Before that, they became the supervisors of automation in society, deciding that Tinder is ‘immoral’— as if the rishta-aunty concept was never a troublesome phenomena. Their third role this year had made them mental health officers of Pakistan, deciding to ban PUBG by citing ‘addiction’.

It is time that the country recognizes the power held by PTA, and moves swiftly to curtail it before irreparable damage is done.

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