India doesn’t seem to be the only country where the government has cracked down on the Twitteratti. A popular Pakistani tweeter, whose acidic attacks on the government and administration won him thousands of followers, has suddenly disappeared from the social media website.
Where Pakistani media often loses out on free expression, @MajorlyProfound often sought to fill in the gap, albeit on Twitter. His account was popular amongst Pakistani Internet junkies for its take on the powerful, the corrupt and their prejudices.
Reactions to the apparent suspension of his account rang through social media in Pakistan. As Declan Walsh of the New York times reports, one Pakistani tweeted: “Where r u MAJOR ?? What happened 2 u ?? I hope u r safe from mad dog jihadis.”
The unexplained closing of his Twitter account and a related blog on 4 August has become the cyber-mystery of the moment among English-speaking Pakistani liberal, Walsh writes.
The concern is potent in a land where rubbing on the wrong side of the authorities can land you in prison and anti-blasphemy laws wreak havoc in the ‘secularism’ of the system.
Amongst @MajorlyProfound’s recent popular comments was one in which he said that a Pakistani should have been given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame, in recognition of “our expertise at burning things” like NATO supply trucks and Indian luxury hotels.
Later, he suggested that the national team could do well in archery, but only if a photo of an Ahmadi — a religious minority that suffers grave persecution — were placed on the target board.
“Pakistani shooters sure to win gold,” he wrote on Twitter. “But there is a danger they might throw grenade instead.”
Hard-hitting but true, his comments won him over 10,000 followers on Twitter amongst them the elite and active in Pakistani media.
This is just one more blot on Pakistan’s crackdown on social media and mobile networks. And this finds echo in similar moves by the Indian government’s off late.
After the recent media-termed ‘exodus of North-east Indians’ following a spate of text messages, the Indian government limited the number of SMSs across mobile networks hampering communication.
Now, it’s gone a step further by suspending and blocking social media accounts that rile the Centre under the pretext of removing inflammatory material from the Internet.
There is no doubt the government will face a backlash of this move in 2014, but the trouble doesn’t seem to be centred only in India. It’s brewing across the subcontinent as tweeters in Pakistan mourn the loss of @MajorlyProfound from their world on the web.