Social media Services have been restored after the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) temporarily shut down social media platforms in the country from 11 AM to 3 PM on the orders of the Interior Ministry.
“Access to social media applications has been restored,” the PTA said on social networking site Twitter. Earlier, the ministry had directed the PTA chairman to “take immediate action on the matter”.
Following this, PTA has shut down social media services on the orders of the Home Ministry.
Shortly afterward, the PTA issued an official statement saying that “access to certain social media applications has been temporarily banned in order to maintain law and order and protect the public.”
The Interior Ministry said the closed apps include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and WhatsApp.
Although the Interior Ministry’s notification did not give a reason for the ban, the development comes just days after tensions erupted in the country following protests by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill shared a note written by Saad Rizvi, the detained TLP chief, in which Saad Rizvi urged the workers to maintain law and order and refrain from blocking roads and highways.
In his note, Saad Rizvi instructed the workers to return home peacefully and cooperate with law enforcement.
However, some TLP workers had insisted that they would not return unless they saw Saad Rizvi speaking and listening to them.
Meanwhile, some social activists criticized the closure of social media, saying it would be a prelude to further restrictions on freedom.
Nighat Dad, head of the Digital Rights Foundation, said on Twitter shortly before the ban was imposed: “The decisions to block and ban have never been better, but have paved the way for permanent sanctions.”
Ban on TLP
Yesterday, the government of Pakistan banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and the Interior Ministry had issued a formal notification banning the organization.
According to a notification issued by the Interior Ministry, the federal government has good reason to believe that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan is involved in terrorism and has carried out activities that endangered the peace and security of the country.
The notification said that they provoked the people and created chaos in the country, which resulted in the loss of law enforcement personnel and the death of some.
According to the statement, the enraged people also harmed innocent people, erected large-scale barricades, engaged in threatening behavior, and promoted hatred as well as damaged government and public property, including vehicles.
According to the Interior Ministry, the enraged people also stopped the delivery of essential items to the hospital and threatened the people and the government, creating an atmosphere of panic and instability in society.
The TLP was later added to the list of banned organizations by the National Counter-Terrorism Organization (NCTA), bringing the number of banned organizations to 79.
In an effort to win the confidence of the Ulema in this regard, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri had also organized an Iftar dinner in honor of the religious scholars in which Home Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed informed him about the reasons for banning TLP.