Social media platform X blocked in Pakistan over national security, ministry says

 Pakistan's interior ministry recently confirmed that access to the social media platform X was blocked around the time of February’s election due to national security concerns, confirming suspicions of a long-suspected shutdown. Users in Pakistan had reported issues accessing X, formerly known as Twitter, since mid-February, although the government had not officially acknowledged the shutdown until now.

The interior ministry disclosed the shutdown in a written submission to the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. Another court has instructed the government to review the ban within a week, according to Abdul Moiz Jafri, a petitioner and advocate.

The ministry stated in its court submission, seen by Reuters, that X's failure to comply with lawful directives and address concerns about platform misuse led to the ban. X did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

The ministry report mentioned that the decision to block X was made to uphold national security, maintain public order, and preserve the nation's integrity. Access to X has remained restricted since the February 8 national election, which Imran Khan's party claims was rigged.

Khan's party heavily uses social media platforms, especially after traditional media began censoring news about him and his party before the polls. Despite Khan's significant presence on X with over 20 million followers, he remains in jail following convictions just before the election, alleging military interference in his ouster as prime minister.

While government officials, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, still use X, likely through VPN software bypassing the blocks, the decision to block X temporarily was based on confidential reports from Pakistan's intelligence and security agencies.

Rights groups and advertisers have expressed concerns about the block on X, with digital rights activist Usama Khilji highlighting the hindrance to democratic accountability and real-time information updates amid post-election rigging allegations.

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