Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook were once again accessible in Pakistan on Friday after being unavailable for a few days.
Users had begun claiming that the sites were inaccessible soon after nationwide demonstrations broke out in response to Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), being detained on May 9.
On the directives of the interior ministry, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shut down mobile internet services throughout the nation on Tuesday night. This was the longest such uninterrupted closure in a nation that frequently shuts down communications as a weapon to suppress dissent.
According to sources, the telecom operators’ income has decreased by around Rs820 million as a result of the internet suspension, which has had a significant negative impact on the industry given the precarious status of the economy.
Aside from that, the government had also blocked YouTube services took longer to rein in the dissemination of misinformation and public fear brought on by “unwanted information.”
Today, a PTA representative verified that internet connectivity was returning nationwide.
Authorities to free Khan “immediately” after declaring his arrest on the grounds of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to be “illegal,” the decision to reactivate the internet has been made.
The PTI leader was also instructed by the top court to get bail from the IHC. Khan then made an appearance before the high court today, which gave him protective bail for two weeks in the Al-Qadir Trust case (in which the PTI leader was detained) and prohibited police from detaining him in any other case until May 15.
Amnesty International voices concerns
Amnesty International asked Pakistani authorities to remove limitations on internet access earlier today.
Amnesty International’s South Asian campaigner, Rimmel Mohydin, stated: in Pakistan as it threatens further severe violations of the people’s rights and risks more fatalities.”
She continued by pleading with officials to refrain from using more force than is necessary and proportional. “The authorities should be aiming to defuse the situation,” she said. Amnesty International implores the Pakistani government to exhibit patience and employ minimal force rather than using weapons to disperse protests.
She said that the government’s announcement that the mobile internet shutdown is “indefinite” is alarming and clearly violates the public’s right to access information and freedom of speech.
Mohydin emphasised that “the restrictions must be lifted immediately” and added that “the ban on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube also creates a permissive environment for other human rights violations under the darkness of the internet shutdown.”