Pakistan blocked social media platform X over ‘misuse’ concerns; high court orders to restore

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Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed the long-suspected shutdown of social media platform X saying it ordered the temporary blockage in February on national security concerns.

Social media users in Pakistan have been facing difficulties in accessing the Elon Musk-owned platform since mid-February when jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party called for nationwide protests against alleged rigging in general elections.

The confirmation came from Pakistan’s interior ministry which mentioned the shutdown in a written court submission on Wednesday.

“It is very pertinent to mention here that the failure of Twitter/X to adhere to the lawful directives of the government of Pakistan and address concerns regarding the misuse of its platform necessitated the imposition of a ban,” Reuters quoted the report as saying.

The ministry alleged that the social media company exhibited reluctance to cooperate with Pakistani authorities in resolving “critical” issues.

A Pakistan high court said the government must restore X within one week after more than two months of disruption.

“The Sindh High Court has given the government one week to withdraw the letter, failing which, on the next date, they will pass appropriate orders,” Moiz Jaaferi, a lawyer challenging the ban, told AFP.

A senior government official made a public admission of vote manipulation in the February 8 polls, triggering outrage and call for protests from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Reports suggested widespread disruptions in accessing X in the capital Islamabad as well as the mega cities of Lahore and Karachi.

Mobile internet services were cut across the country on polling day, with the interior ministry citing security reasons.

The US State Department said it supported the right to internet access without commenting on whether Washington had raised the issue with Pakistan.

“As a general matter, we want internet platforms to be available to people in Pakistan and around the world,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.