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July 3, 2020

DIG for permanent ban on PUBG, other violence-based games

Lahore

July 3, 2020

LAHORE:In the wake of recommendations by the DIG Operations Lahore Ashfaq Ahmed Khan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned the Player Unknown’s Battlefields (PUBG) game which led to commission of suicide by three adolescents during the months of June and July.

DIG Ashfaq Khan was the very first police officer who raised this issue on electronic as well as print media directing the police circles concerned to make consultation and officially coordinate with PTA and other departments concerned to ban this game as youth was devastated and their future was being ruined.

Ashfaq Khan wrote a letter to the CCPO Lahore on June 26 in which he informed that the divisional SPs had reported two incidents of suicide committed by young boys in North Cantt and Hanjarwal police limits respectively in the month of June.

On June 20, a 20-year-old student of 2nd year Jonty Joseph had committed suicide after being scolded by his family for playing the PUBG. The victim lived in North Cantt area. His father reportedly reprimanded him for playing the online game for a long period. The boy locked himself up in a room. The next day when he did not open the door, the family broke it and found him hanged.

Muhammad Zakarya, son of Khawaja Sohail, a resident of Hanjarwal, had committed suicide by hanging himself on June 23, after he missed the “mission” assigned to him while playing the PUBG. A mobile phone was found on a bed near the body with the PUBG game running.

The boy had appeared in matriculation examinations and used to play the game for many hours a day. His father confirmed his obsession with the online game. The third suicide was reported on July 1, 2020. Shaharyar, 18, was found hanging in a room of his rented house in Punjab Housing Society. The victim’s brother Shoaib confirmed that Shaharyar was a PUBG addict. The victim reportedly made a video call to a girl before committing suicide and apologised to his friend and PUBG partner who was living on the lower floor of the house.

Talking to The News, DIG Ashfaq Khan said he and his high-ups were consistently in contact with PTA, FIA and other departments to permanently ban PUBG as well as other violence-based online games and websites in near future.

He said that commission of extreme step of suicide by the boys while playing interactive online computer game indicated an alarming situation and required thorough research, analysis and affirmative action by the PTA regulatory body concerned and matter should be brought into the notice of FIA Cyber Crime Wing for taking cognizance of any organised crime or illegal activity in this regard.

DIG Ashfaq Khan said that in view of the above situation, the Lahore police had recommended that PTA and Cyber Crime Wing (FIA) should be approached for necessary action in this regard. IG Punjab Shoaib Dastghir played a pivotal role in submitting a letter to the authority concerned in the light of the recommendations made by the Lahore police, he added.

PTA also received numerous complaints against PUBG wherein it is stated that the game is addictive, wastage of time and poses serious negative impact on physical and psychological health of the children.

Lahore High Court has also directed PTA to look into the issue and decide the matter after hearing complainants. In this regard, a hearing is being conducted on 9th July. The authority also decided to solicit public views on the game. In this regard, public has been requested to provide feedback through [email protected] by 10th July.

DIG Operations Lahore Ashfaq Khan also met with the parents/heir of the three youths who committed suicide in two weeks. He expressed deep grief over the loss of precious lives. He said that excessive involvement of youths in digital war games created torture inclination in them leading to the extreme step of suicide. He said the game had a tendency to trigger aggressive thoughts causing violent behaviour, addiction to complete the mission causing pain, agony and anxiety resulting in depression and stress. The players of this game ended up becoming less socially active sitting up for long hours causing disruption in sleep pattern resulting in deterioration of physical and mental health. It was a matter of great relief for him that ultimately PTA had banned this battle game though temporarily in the country, he added. He said he and his high-ups were consistently in contact with PTA, FIA and other departments to permanently ban PUBG as well as other violence based online games and websites in near future.

Ashfaq Khan said it was a dire need of the hour to strengthen the family bonds and motivate youths to adopt extracurricular and creative activities instead of wasting time and brain in futile digital games. Parents should monitor the activities of their children and bar them from being involved in isolated games. Parents of the suicide victims thanked DIG Operations Ashfaq Khan for raising the issue of suicide tendency caused by the online digital games.