Free Speech and Responsible Use of Social Media? Sikandar Zaman Case

Sikandar Zaman

The recent sentencing of a young Pakistani, Sikandar Zaman for posting an anti-army tweet has sparked a conversation around the balance between free speech and responsible use of social media. While it is important to respect the rule of law, it is equally important to ensure that the laws are just and do not infringe on basic human rights. In this article, we will discuss why the sentencing of the young Pakistani is not good for the country, while also acknowledging the importance of responsible social media usage.

It is important to note that while freedom of expression is a basic human right, it does not give individuals the right to misuse social media to spread hate or incite violence. The young boy’s tweet, while critical of the army, may have crossed a line if it contained harmful or false information. It is important to remember that with the freedom to express oneself comes the responsibility to use that freedom in a way that does not harm others.

However, the sentencing of the young boy still sends a dangerous message to other Pakistanis who may wish to express their opinions freely. It creates a chilling effect on free speech, discouraging people from speaking out on issues that matter to them, for fear of retribution from the authorities. This is particularly concerning in a country like Pakistan, where freedom of expression is already under threat from various sources, including extremist groups and government censorship.

So, what could have been done with the young boy to avoid such things in the future? Rather than punishing him with a prison sentence, the authorities could have taken a more educational approach. For example, the boy could have been required to attend a seminar or workshop on responsible social media usage. This would have given him the opportunity to understand the importance of responsible speech, while also allowing him to express his opinions freely. Additionally, the authorities could have engaged with the boy in a dialogue, rather than treating him as a criminal. This would have helped to build trust between citizens and the state and could have prevented future instances of misusing social media.

To summarize, while it is important to prevent the misuse of social media, punishing the young Pakistani boy for his anti-army tweet is not in the best interest of the country. It sets a dangerous precedent that could deter others from expressing their opinions and violates democratic principles. As a society, we must strive to strike a balance between freedom of expression and responsible social media use. To achieve this, authorities should prioritize creating a more open and democratic society, where individuals can freely express their opinions without fear of backlash, and implement educational programs to help promote responsible social media use.