Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) calls on authorities to ensure uninterrupted internet access rather than issuing incredulous explanations and leaving the door open for future disruptions after social media access was again disrupted in Pakistan.
In what has become an unfortunate trend in the country, social media access was disrupted again on January 20. The disruption, which coincided with an online event organized by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) political party, was the third such disruption since December 2023. While there is no official confirmation about whether PTI activities are the reason behind the disruption, all disturbances in access to social media platforms coincided with virtual activities of the political party.
With the elections set to take place in two weeks, in a period of heightened political activity and electioneering, such disruptions are even more damaging. It is imperative that citizens can access social media platforms without disruptions, and all political parties can campaign as per the rules without such disruptions.
On January 20, NetBlocks confirmed the nationwide disruption on social media platforms such as X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said the disruption was caused by a “technical fault,” which had been fixed, and the internet services had been restored.
In a press conference, Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi was asked why the disruptions occur during the PTI’s online activities and whether he would ensure that internet services remain active closer to the elections.
According to Dawn, Solangi said: “The economy, businesses, and prestige of the country are more important for us […] it is important for us to take care of them.”
Solangi said, according to the information he had, the disruption was caused due to technical factors such as system installations, adding that there could be no guarantee given that it would not take place in the future even if that may be what one wishes for.
At the press conference, PTA Director General Ahmed Shamim Pirzada said the disruption was due to technical glitches and system upgrades, Dawn reported.
The report quoted him as saying, “You can face this for the next two to three months, ” adding that he recalled similar instances taking place before.
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