muaazam law firm



Copyright 2023 Muazzam Law Firm.
All Rights Reserved.

12:00 PM - 20:00 PM

Our Opening Hours Mon. - Sat.


Feel free to contact us.




Online restrictions spark public outcry in Pakistan

Muazzam Law Firm > News  > Online restrictions spark public outcry in Pakistan

Online restrictions spark public outcry in Pakistan

Restricted access to social media platform X, formerly known Twitter, has caused outrage in Pakistan amid accusations that authorities are interfering with the political process in the aftermath of the country’s disputed national elections.

NetBlocks, an internet watchdog that tracks cyber security and digital governance, reported the restrictions on Sunday, the latest in a series of disruptions since the elections on February 8.

“Metrics show that X/Twitter has now been restricted in Pakistan for 24 hours, the latest and longest in a series of nation-scale internet censorship measures imposed by authorities as reports of election fraud emerge,” NetBlocks reported on the platform.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the official internet regulator, has not commented on claims that the government ordered access to the platform to be blocked.

However, an official from the authority confirmed to The National that it had blocked X in line with a Ministry of Interior order.

“Such decisions on social media blockade are taken by the Ministry of Interior in view of security aspects. This is why only the Interior Ministry can comment on this issue,” the official said.

When contacted, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Tehreem Ahsan said she did not know “about [the] Twitter situation and can’t comment on this”.

⚠️ Confirmed: Live metrics show a new national-scale disruption to X/Twitter in #Pakistan amid escalating unrest and protests over allegations of election fraud, following a high-level resignation and public admission of vote manipulation by a senior election official— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 17, 2024

Moazzam Butt, a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, told The National that the move was illegal under Article 19 of Pakistan’s [1973] Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the press.

“The sub-articles 19A and 19B are being retracted by the X’s blockade,” Mr Butt said. “Blocking X at this time – when the entire nation is electing their representatives and a government is being formed – is unlawful.”

Dr Faizullah Jan, an analyst and professor at the University of Peshawar, said the government’s failure to acknowledge that it had ordered the disruption showed it did not believe in democracy and freedom of expression.

He linked the decision to continuing protests by supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan, who claim the elections were rigged.

“Even if the government intends to block social media platform, it should do it through the judiciary on the basis of some legal framework,” he said.

“The blockade should not be ordered just by the government without explaining any reason. Through the X’s disruption, the activists are divided into pockets to weaken their voice.”

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan secretary general Harris Khalique told The National that interrupting or shutting down social media platforms was bad for online commerce and anti-democratic.

“It also infringes upon people’s right to democratic decision making, information and expression. This practice must stop immediately,” he said.

Supporters of Mr Khan have accused officials of rigging elections in favour of the rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and other parties that they say are backed by the country’s powerful military.

Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party was effectively barred from fielding candidates in Pakistan’s election, but independents backed by the former prime minister together won more seats than any of the parties.

Officials switched off the country’s mobile phone network on the day of the election.

On Saturday, the electoral authority ordered an inquiry after a senior bureaucrat said he had helped to manipulate the results of 13 constituencies in the election.

Published in The National News, February 19, 2024

No Comments

Leave a Comment