Mobile internet services in Pakistan have been reinstated after a disruption lasting more than 72 hours, restoring citizens’ access to numerous social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.
The internet shutdown followed the arrest of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and subsequent violent protests which erupted across the country threatening law and order and security. As a result, the general public’s access to mobile internet and social media was restricted nationwide.
Following directives from the Ministry of Interior, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority restricted access to mobile internet services and various social media websites including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for Pakistani citizens.
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The inability to access platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others had a significant impact on mobile companies and the freelancing industry within the country.
The social media ban had prompted concern from several countries including the United States, who expressed their anxiety over the situation.
The suspension of mobile broadband services caused significant financial losses for digital service providers, the government, and the general population.
Mobile broadband services and access to social media platforms had remained suspended for a consecutive fourth day in several parts of the country on Friday in the aftermath of the riots triggered by the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9.
According to a report published Thursday, the suspension resulted in an estimated revenue loss of at least Rs820 million for telecom operators, while the government has lost around Rs287 million in tax revenue. Individuals who depend on digital apps and payments, such as Careem, InDrive, FoodPanda, and others also suffered a significant loss in earnings.
The IT industry, which was already under pressure due to allegedly poor governmental policies and a lack of continuity, also came to a standstill since the internet suspension.
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A writ petition was also filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday seeking directions to the relevant authorities for the restoration of cellular internet service and access to all social media platforms. The court was asked to declare the imposed blockage as arbitrary, illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional, as it amounts to depriving the public of their basic rights.
On Friday, a global organisation of mobile ecosystem, Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), also expressed concern over the shutdown of broadband internet in Pakistan. In an emergency letter to Federal Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haq, the GSMA had pressed the government to put an end to internet disruptions.