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Media watchdog blames govt for suspension of ''X'' in Pakistan, says it violates fundamental rights of citizens

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Islamabad | February 22, 2024 10:54:56 AM IST
Amid the suspension of social media platform ''X'' in Pakistan, the media watchdog Freedom Network has accused the federal government of violating the fundamental rights of the citizens in the country, The Express Tribune reported.

"No other entity is responsible for this undeclared censorship of X than the federal caretaker government, which is proving to violate the fundamental rights of citizens of this country," the Freedom Network said in a press statement, joining the chorus to allow citizens access to the platform.

According to the report, there has been an undeclared ban on the social media platform X in Pakistan since February 17 and it came days after another ban was imposed on mobile internet on the election day, February 8.

The media watchdog organisation said: "The public access to the social networking platform must be restored without any further delay as the ban goes contrary to the caretaker government''s plans to digitalise the country."

It urged the authorities to stop violating the digital rights of the public.

X has been inaccessible since February 17 when former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaqat Chattha resigned over what he said was alleged "election rigging" in the Rawalpindi division during the election.

Amid political, economic and security challenges coupled with rigging allegations arising out of the February 8 elections, the government''s fear of dissent forced it to take X as a threat and shut it down without giving any reasons.

It''s not the only one, as other social media applications, cellular services and the internet frequently face blackouts, leaving from the president to experts and media to a common man to question the unannounced disruption and dub it an attempt to silent dissent.

Media reports suggested the platform "remained sporadically accessible in some cities" while reports said that it was not accessible in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.

The Express Tribune reported that IT and AI Strategist and Consultant Khawaja Fahad Shakeel said that disrupting X had technical, social and economic implications for the country. "It is used to make trends like the 2024 general elections, former Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha and the like."

On top of that, Shakeel said, the international media and watchdogs kept monitoring and measuring trends through the parameters like social media apps, used by all bigwigs and political parties. "If it is blocked, they stop making trends and the rankings fall significantly."

He said common people are unaware of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), stressing that around 2 or 3% of the total internet users in Pakistan knew how to use VPNs to operate social media platforms. "When people have no access to information," Shakeel said, "it impacts negatively."

IT sector is divided into four industries--call centre industry, SEO [Search Engine Optimisation] marketing industry, the software development industry and the social media industry, Shakeel said, adding the IT companies had to move to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to market their brands when X was down

Economic analyst and Alpha Beta Core CEO Khurram Schehzad said that the marketing agencies took full advantage of all social media platforms and if even one app was down, it hurt businesses and the image of the country.

"The social media are way more powerful these days, if it is blocked, it negatively impacts people, including investors, companies and foreigners," CEO Khurram said. (ANI)

 
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