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Pakistan Forceful Block of Social Media Platform X Draws Global Ridicule

Pakistan Draconian Ban on Social Media Platform X Mocked by Court.

The Elon Musk-owned social media platform X has been suspended in Pakistan since February, following the government’s decision to restrict access to the platform due to concerns regarding national security threats. This confirmation came on Wednesday, as Pakistan acknowledged the long-suspected shutdown of the platform, revealing that the temporary blockage was ordered on national security grounds.

Since mid-February, social media users in Pakistan have encountered difficulties accessing the platform, particularly after the jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party called for nationwide protests alleging election rigging. The country’s interior ministry confirmed the shutdown in a written court submission, citing the failure of Twitter/X to comply with lawful directives and address concerns regarding the platform’s misuse. According to Reuters, the ministry accused the social media company of being reluctant to cooperate with Pakistani authorities in resolving critical issues.

“The decision to impose a ban on Twitter/X in Pakistan was made in the interest of upholding national security, maintaining public order, and preserving the integrity of our nation,” the ministry’s report stated. However, the suspension of X faced strong criticism from the Sindh High Court (SHC), which directed the government to restore the platform within one week.

SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, presiding over multiple petitions related to the platform’s suspension, questioned the Interior Ministry’s decision, stating, “What are you achieving via shutting down trivial things… The world must laugh at us,” as reported by Geo News. The suspension of X followed a senior government official’s public admission of vote manipulation during the February 8 polls, leading to outrage and calls for protests from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Reports indicated widespread disruptions in accessing X in major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.

On polling day, mobile internet services were cut across the country, with the interior ministry citing security reasons. The US State Department, while expressing support for the right to internet access, refrained from commenting on whether it had raised the issue with Pakistan. “As a general matter, we want internet platforms to be available to people in Pakistan and around the world,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller during a press briefing.

The suspension of X in Pakistan raises concerns not only about the freedom of expression and access to information within the country but also about the broader implications for digital rights and governance. Critics argue that while national security is undoubtedly important, blanket bans on social media platforms can stifle dissent, impede communication, and limit the exchange of ideas crucial for a vibrant democracy.

Moreover, the reluctance of tech companies to comply with government directives raises questions about the balance between respecting national sovereignty and safeguarding fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy. In an increasingly interconnected world, where social media platforms serve as vital channels for communication, commerce, and activism, the regulation of these platforms presents complex challenges for governments, businesses, and civil society alike.

The case of X in Pakistan underscores the need for transparent and accountable governance frameworks that uphold democratic values while addressing legitimate security concerns. Collaborative efforts between governments, tech companies, and civil society are essential to develop policies that promote online safety, combat misinformation, and protect human rights in the digital age.

Ultimately, the restoration of X in Pakistan should not only be seen as a victory for free expression but also as an opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation to build a more inclusive and secure digital ecosystem for all.

The suspension of X in Pakistan has sparked a broader debate about the role of social media platforms in society and the extent to which governments should regulate them. While concerns about national security are valid, the manner in which such measures are implemented can have far-reaching implications for freedom of expression, democratic governance, and digital rights.

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