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Pakistan

Pakistan temporarily blocks major social media sites including Facebook and Twitter after TLP's violent protests

  • The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has shut down social media apps till 3 pm
  • The decision has been taken to maintain the law and order in the country following violent protests by a banned religious party
Updated 16 Apr 2021

(Karachi) In a surprising move, social media platforms have been blocked for a few hours in the country, local media reported on Friday.

As per the Interior Ministry, the decision has been taken to maintain the law and order in the country following violent protests by a banned religious party.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has shut down social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, etc till 3 pm.

Earlier, on April 13, violent protests erupted across the country after Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan protesters took to the streets claiming the lives of two policemen and injuries to more than 300 people. The TLP protesters also damaged public and private property.

The TLP had been demanding the government to expel the French ambassador and ban the import of goods from that country over blasphemy.

As the law and order situation worsened, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed announced that the government has banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

He said that no case registered against TLP men regarding violence during protests will be taken back. He highlighted that the government will not spare anyone involved in creating law and order and damaging public and private property.

In the past, Pakistan enforced new rules governing social media that raised concerns about freedom of expression and human rights in the country. Under the new legislation, social media platforms that do not comply with the content removal demands of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority will face bans and fines.

The rules for Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content came into force after the government issued a Gazette Notification on October 20, 2020, whereby it approved them.

Since February 2020, the government has been trying to put in place a set of rules that not only curtail dissent and ban any entertainment assumed against the moral and religious ethics of society but also clamp down on critical voices. In September, TikTok, PUBG, dating Apps, and YouTube were among the platforms that received complaints from the PTA to ban content if they wish to continue operating in Pakistan.