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Petition in LHC seeks PUBG ban after another violent tragedy

Updated 29 Jan, 2022
It is stated in the plea that the video game had become a serious life and health threat to users and causing hardships to families of the players. File photo
It is stated in the plea that the video game had become a serious life and health threat to users and causing hardships to families of the players. File photo

A citizen filed a petition in the Lahore High Court to impose a ban on the video game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, known as PUBG, saying it was fueling violence in the minds of young people, reported Samaa News.

The move came a day after the Lahore police claimed to solve the mystery of four murders, a mother and her three children after it detained the woman's fourth child, 14-year-old.

As per Punjab police, the 14-year old used to play the popular online game PUBG, which influenced him to kill his mother and three siblings.

In the plea submitted in the LHC, Tanveer Sarwar, a resident of Lahore, noted that the video game had become a serious threat to the mental and physical health of its players and causing hardships to their families. It also claims that the game would ruin young generation of the country, If it was not immediately banned, according to the report.

Quoting the World Health Organisation, the petition stated that the global health body had declared gaming addiction a mental health disorder.

“Addiction to video games increases depression and anxiety levels. Known outcomes of playing PUBG are a strain on the eyes, frazzle, migraine, obesity, poor sleep, violence, and more. Psychological health issues are there too such as withdrawal (irritability, poor sleep, anger) depression, insomnia, and even substance abuse as a result of compulsive disorder,” the report quoted the petition.

The petitioner named the government, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) respondents in the case and recommended that the restriction should be imposed on the gaming app under the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

Giving reference to online games in the neighbouring country, India, the petition stated: “There is no law for regulating online games in Pakistan while in our neighbouring country like India laws have been enacted to regulate online games.”

The petition stressed that it was need of the hour to promulgate laws for “regulating” online games and a direction could be issued to the respondents to frame laws for regulating the industry like other countries.

Following the detention of the teenager in the multiple homicide case, the Punjab police department had decided to recommend to the provincial and federal governments a ban on video games that are considered dangerous and fuelling violence among the young generation so that the youth can be safeguarded from their harmful effects.

Since 2020, this is the fourth incident related to the online game in Lahore. At that time, the then capital city police officer Zulfiqar Hameed had recommended a ban on the game to save lives, time and the future of millions of teenagers, according to a Dawn report.

In the last two years, three young players of the online game committed suicide, while the police in its reports declared PUBG as the reason behind the deaths.

The same year in July, the LHC lifted ban on PUBG imposed by the PTA as the regulator had received several complaints about the online game being "addictive", a waste of time and its potential negative impact on children's physical and psychological health.

Shortly after the court announced the verdict, the PTA issued a detailed order saying it had banned the game in the country under Section 37 of Peca, according to a Dawn report. According to the powers under the Peca, the regulator can remove or block or issue directives for removal or blocking of access to an information through any information system if it considered it necessary in the interest of “public order, decency or morality”.

As per the report, the PTA considered that the element of “morality” had also been applied on PUBG.