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Insights on Social Media Platform Ban in Pakistan

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The Information Minister, Attaullah Tarar, recently addressed the ban on social media platform X, stating that it was already banned before the new government assumed office, despite the absence of an official notification. The disruption of access to X in various parts of Pakistan since February 17 stemmed from allegations made by former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Chattha regarding election rigging involving top officials. Minister Tarar initially refuted claims of X being banned but later acknowledged its restricted functionality, suggesting that a charter outlining boundaries for online content would be beneficial.

In an interview with World Echo News, Tarar emphasized the need for a charter defining acceptable online behavior to prevent issues like misogynistic abuse and disrespect towards martyrs. He also discussed press freedom, highlighting journalist Asad Ali Toor’s recent arrest and advocating for freedom of expression and journalism. Regarding the Punjab government’s proposed law against “fake news,” Tarar suggested that political parties should collectively address such matters rather than relying solely on state intervention.

Amnesty International has urged the immediate restoration of X, emphasizing the importance of upholding freedom of expression and access to information in line with international human rights commitments. The joint statement signed by Amnesty International and various civil society organizations condemns internet shutdowns and social media platform blocking, citing concerns over stifling political discourse and limiting diverse voices in Pakistan.

The arbitrary blocking of platforms like X (formerly Twitter) since February 17 underscores growing digital censorship in the country, raising alarms about restrictions on fundamental rights. The collective call for restoring X reflects a broader concern among human rights activists and organizations regarding the curtailment of online freedoms in Pakistan.

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