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Pakistan: Social media platform 'X' shutdown continues for eighth day

Islamabad: Even after eight days, the services of social media giant X, formerly Twitter, remained suspended across Pakistan while the authorities have yet to disclose the reason behind the prolonged disruption, Pakistan-based Geo News reported.
The shutdown began on Saturday last week, resulting in users not being able to access information on social media platform X.
Global internet monitor, NetBlocks, said VPN services have also been restricted in Pakistan, resulting in users facing difficulty accessing the micro-blogging site.
Website tracker said, "User reports indicate possible problems at X (Twitter)." Speaking to Geo TV, Nighat Dad, the executive director of the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)," said that the X outage is causing a damage to Paksitan's image. She further said that the PTA is not being transparent regarding these outages and disruptions.
She noted that there is a likelihood of "consuming disinformation by users on platforms like X where people have a space to exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of speech and access to information, specifically during times of elections or conflict."
Nighat Dad said, "That's where we need these platforms where people have more and more speech and the other people can counter this information as well, and, specifically around elections."
She said that the X outage is not sending a good message to investors or international organisations. She said, "I don't think it's a good beginning for this newly formed government or the go or any party that is forming a government in Pakistan."
Notably, Pakistan struggles with internet availability, ranking low in comparison to its peers, while reportedly authorities intermittently disrupt access to social media platforms, according to Geo News report.
Ahead of the elections on February 8, users were not able to access social media sites, for which concerned authorities blamed a "technical error." However, according to the Pakistan caretaker government, the internet was shut down on voting day to avoid terrorism.
After the polls, people faced repeated disruptions in accessing X. According to Geo News report, Internet shutdowns directly contradict constitutionally guaranteed rights like freedom of information (Article 19-A), freedom of speech (Article 19), and freedom of association (Article 17).
In its February 2018 ruling, the Islamabad High Court declared internet shutdowns against fundamental rights and the constitution. Digital rights activists had slammed the Pakistani authorities' decision to disrupt access to the social media platform and expressed concern over the lack of transparency from the government, Geo News reported.
On February 22, the Sindh High Court directed the PTA to fully restore the services of social media platform X in Pakistan and asked for a detailed response from the authority and other parties at a later hearing. Despite court's decision, the PTA is yet to allow accessibility.

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