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Two-Month Ban on X in Pakistan Sparks Concerns About Freedom of Expression

Two-Month Ban on X in Pakistan Sparks Concerns About Freedom of Expression

The ongoing disruption of social media platform X in Pakistan has reached a significant milestone, with the blockade now extending for two months, sparking concerns about digital communication access and freedom of expression in the country. X, which was initially blocked on February 17th, remains inaccessible to users across Pakistan as of April 17th.

During this two-month period, X has been briefly restored multiple times, granting users access for brief intervals ranging from 10 to 15 minutes. In response to the blockade, many Pakistanis have turned to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to circumvent the restrictions and access X. However, reports have emerged indicating that the government is also targeting VPNs, further limiting users’ ability to bypass the restrictions effectively.

Both the Sindh and Islamabad High Courts have taken up the issue of X’s ban in Pakistan. The Sindh High Court has ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to fully restore access to X nationwide, warning authorities of consequences unless specific justifications for the shutdown are provided. Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has summoned the Secretary of Interior to address the matter.

Also Read: X Ban: Crossed one Month

The ban on X has not only impacted individual users but has also had repercussions for businesses, organizations, and online activity as a whole in Pakistan. The absence of access to a widely used social media platform like X has raised serious concerns about freedom of expression and communication in the digital age. The Interior Ministry has been actively involved in the issue, with a letter sent to the PTA instructing them to halt access to X immediately. This directive, presented before the Sindh High Court, underlined the continuation of the shutdown until further notice.

As the ban on X persists, users are eagerly awaiting a resolution to the issue, with hopes resting on legal interventions such as the upcoming hearings at the Islamabad High Court today and the Lahore High Court on April 18th. The involvement of the courts holds the potential to lead to a breakthrough in restoring access to X for the millions of users who rely on the platform for various purposes.