Pakistan’s 2-Month Ban on X Raises Concerns Over Freedom of Expression

The ongoing disruption of social media platform X in Pakistan has now reached the two-month mark, prompting concerns regarding access to digital communication and freedom of expression in the nation. X, which was initially blocked on February 17th, continues to remain inaccessible to users across Pakistan as of April 17th. Within these two months, X was briefly restored multiple times, allowing users access for mere 10 to 15-minute intervals. In response to the blockage, a large number of Pakistanis are resorting to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access X. However, they are facing difficulties as reports emerge suggesting that the government is also blocking VPNs, further limiting users' ability to bypass the restrictions. The Sindh and Islamabad High Courts have both taken up the issue of X's ban in Pakistan. The Sindh High Court ordered the PTA to fully restore access to X across the country, warning authorities that they would face consequences unless they presented specific justifications for the shutdown. The Islamabad High Court summoned the Secretary of Interior on the matter. The ban on X has not only affected individual users but has also impacted businesses, organizations, and the overall online activity in Pakistan. The lack of access to a popular social media platform like X has raised concerns about freedom of expression and communication in the digital age. The Interior Ministry has also been involved in the matter, with a letter being sent to the PTA instructing them to halt X immediately. The letter presented before the Sindh High Court emphasized the continuation of the shutdown until further notice. As the ban on X continues, users are eagerly awaiting a resolution to the issue, with hopes pinned on legal interventions like the upcoming hearing at the Islamabad High Court today and the Lahore High Court on April 18th. The court's involvement could potentially lead to a breakthrough in restoring access to X for the millions of users who rely on the platform for various purposes. Sou rce: Pro Pakistani