The government has decided to shut social media platforms in the country from 11am-3pm, Friday, the Interior Ministry said.
The ministry, in a statement, said that the Pakistan Telecommunication (PTA) has been directed to blocked the services of Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, and Telegram and Twitter in the country.
Following the interior ministry’s directives, Nayatel — an internet service provider — said in a message to its customers that social media platforms had been blocked on the directions of the PTA.
Although the notification issued by the interior ministry did not mention a reason for the suspension, the development comes after several days of unrest in the country due to protests by the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
“In order to maintain public order and safety, access to certain social media applications has been restricted temporarily, sources within the PTA said.
“These arbitrary decisions of blocking and banning have never done any good (and) instead opened ways to blanket bans,” said Nighat Dad, head of the Digital Rights Foundation on Twitter, shortly before the site became inaccessible.
Copies of the notification were sent to authorities concerned, including the secretaries of different ministries and divisions, State Bank governor, Election Commission of Pakistan secretary and director general passports.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority had also swiftly added the TLP to the list of banned terrorist organisations taking the total number of such outfits to 79.
In an effort to keep the ulema in the loop, the religious affairs minister had also hosted an Iftar-dinner in the honour of religious scholars where Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had briefed them on the reasons for banning the TLP.
The notice by PEMRA said that Regulation 18(h) of PEMRA (Television Broadcast Station Operation) Regulation, 2012 and Clause 16 of Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015 requires that programmes conform to the laws of the country.
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