Pakistan: Govt Urged To Immediately Lift Internet Ban Across Country


The business community and civil society have expressed anguish at the partial and complete Internet ban across the country since the protests against PTI chairman Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, more than hundred representatives of the community condemned the “ongoing use” of the outages, including the content and app blocking.

Riots broke out a day earlier following the arrest of the former premier by paramilitary Rangers in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

The communiqué noted that such shutdowns and blocking or filtering of online services unjustifiably limit the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, amid an internet ban.

It went on to add that the blockage undermines constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to critical information during conflict.

The business community and civil society representatives reminded the authorities that tens of millions of Pakistanis rely on Internet services to connect with each other and undertake essential business activities.

“By blocking, filtering, or shutting down these services, the government is eroding civic space, fostering a climate of economic uncertainty, and disrupting access to healthcare, emergency services and financial services,” they maintained.

According to the statement, such Internet disruptions have a very negative impact on Pakistani startups, which attracted more than $700 million in investment during 2022-23 and are playing a critical role in promoting entrepreneurship, job creation, and digitisation across the economy.

The affectees include the hundreds and thousands of freelancers and digital creators, they maintained.

The communiqué urged the government to immediately lift restrictions intended to disrupt or prevent the citizens from accessing and disseminating information online and from communicating safely and securely, after an internet ban.

“Moving forward, we also call on the authorities to refrain from imposing partial or complete Internet shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services and to respect the country’s international human rights obligations.”__The Friday Times