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Pakistan Blocks Social Media Platform X for National Security

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In February, Pakistan blocked access to social media platform X, previously known as Twitter. The block was attributed to national security concerns. The interior ministry stated that the platform was inaccessible to users, but officials initially did not acknowledge any restrictions. Users had reported problems since mid February, and both the government and Pakistan telecommunication Authority (PTA) remained silent.

However, the Ministry of Interior recently confirmed the shutdown in a court submission, attributing it to X’s failure to comply with lawful directives and address concerns regarding platform misuse. The ministry asserted that the ban was imposed to uphold national security, maintain public order, and preserve the nation’s integrity. It also claimed that X was reluctant to resolve the issues.

In its reply, MoI cites the controversial 2021 social media rules stating that Twitter had not registered in Pakistan, nor signed an MoU to abide by local laws.

Which it claims made is “necessary” to ban X to “compel the platform”.

— Benazir Shah (@Benazir_Shah) April 17, 2024

Activists challenging the ban argued that it aimed to suppress dissent following the February 8 general elections, which faced widespread allegations of vote rigging and protests. The decision to block X came after considering confidential reports from Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies, citing hostile elements on the platform with intentions to destabilize the country.

The Sindh high court ordered the government to restore access to X within a week, following a challenge against the ban. Access to X has been sporadic, with users resorting to virtual private networks due to intermittent availability. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI), led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, is a prominent user of social media platforms. Khan himself has a significant following on X.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s decision to block social media platform X reflects concerns over national security and the platform’s perceived role in fostering instability. Despite legal challenges, access to X remains restricted, prompting users to seek alternative means to access the platform.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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