Social Media platforms face disruption in Pakistan ahead of PTI’s virtual rally

ISLAMABAD — In anticipation of a virtual rally organized by supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Pakistani government has implemented a shutdown of popular social media platforms.

Users in key cities such as Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad reported difficulties accessing Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube after 8 PM local time, with additional complaints about sluggish internet services.

Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister and PTI leader, Taimur Jhagra, highlighted the coincidental internet issues during the online rally. The PTI party itself described the move as an “expected” one.

Criticism of the disruption came from various quarters, with lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir expressing concern about the adverse impact on millions of subscribers and businesses.

Activist Usama Khilji condemned the interference, stating that it undermined the right of Pakistani citizens to access information and freedom of association.

This incident follows a previous disruption on May 9 when the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed the suspension of mobile broadband nationwide based on the interior ministry’s instructions.

Netblocks reported restrictions on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube across Pakistan on the day of Imran Khan’s arrest.

In July, a report by Surfshark revealed that Pakistan ranked third globally in imposing internet restrictions during the first half of 2023, with three new restrictions attributed to events surrounding Imran Khan’s arrest.

The Surfshark report positioned Pakistan behind Iran and India as leading countries in imposing internet restrictions, with Asia being a focal point for most shutdowns. — (Agencies)