In what sounds like a slightly hypocritical decision, the militant Taliban group will ban PUBG: Battlegrounds in Afghanistan within the next three months. The reason? The game is accused of “promoting violence” and “misleading youth.”
The ban is one of several implemented by The Taliban since it returned to power in Afghanistan in August last year following the collapse of the US-backed government and the withdrawal of American troops. Music, movies, TV soap operas and channels, and over 23 million websites have all been banned for their “immoral content.”
The decision to ban PUBG and TikTok because they were leading Afghanistan’s youth “astray” was announced in April. PCGamer notes that a recent meeting between Afghanistan’s Ministry of Telecommunications, a Sharia law enforcement official, and security representatives resulted in the decision to implement a PUBG ban within the next 90 days, while TikTok will be banned within a month.
The country’s telecommunications and internet service providers have been told to ensure that access to the apps—the PUBG ban is mainly aimed at its mobile version—is restricted within the respective periods.
TikTok and PUBG have become increasingly popular recently due to the Taliban banning other forms of entertainment, ironically. The BBC notes that nearly two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population of 39 million are aged 25 and below. Around 100,000 concurrent players were logging into PUBG at the start of the year, leading to a moral panic in the country.
Afghanistan isn’t the only country to ban these apps. PUBG and TikTok were two of hundreds of apps India banned in 2020 over their links to China. The government said the apps were “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of state and public order.” Pakistan has also banned PUBG for being too addictive and a bad influence on children, while fans in China get to play a sanitized version of the battle royale giant called Game for Peace.
As with bans in other countries, expect to see VPNs suddenly increase in popularity in Afghanistan once the bans are put into effect.