Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Wednesday said that internet services across the country will remain suspended for an indefinite period. The telecommunication authority confirmed that the decision to block mobile broadband services was taken on the directives of the Ministry of Interior.
A day earlier, the services were shutdown as protests erupted after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest in Al-Qadir Trust case.
Moreover, major social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are also reportedly down for many users in Pakistan as they are unable to access these platforms since yesterday.
Videos of violent protests were shared widely on social media platforms after unrest flared up following the former prime minister’s arrest, after which mobile broadband services were blocked.
The PTA spokesperson had said that the regulatory authority was also receiving reports of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, being down. However, these reports could not be confirmed, she added.
Sources told Geo News that “unwarranted” clips of the protests were shared on social media after which various platforms started experiencing disruptions around 8pm on Tuesday, causing problems for citizens.
“Not much works without the internet in today's day and age and although I am no longer a working professional, tuning into the TV to follow the news on such a politically charged day is second nature to me. But I had an error message greet me because even my television channel subscription is tied to my internet services,” Sameen Daud Khan, a researcher who worked on Pakistan’s Internet Landscape 2022 report told Geo.tv.
What had happened?
Khan was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) earlier today by Rangers personnel in connection with a warrant issued by the National Accountability Bureau in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
Following his arrest, the PTI urged supporters all across Pakistan to protest and "block all roads, close all shops".
Subsequently, PTI workers held protests in several cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Mardan.
In Karachi, demonstrators clashed with the police near Nursery. They threw stones at and set fire to police vehicles, tore down street lights, and damaged a bus. There were reports that police fired teargas shells at the protesters.
Protesters also caused damage to public property in other cities, including Rawalpindi and Lahore.
Hours later, many users in Pakistan reported that they were unable to access social media sites in the evening.
According to the outage-tracking website, Downdetector.com, users were unable to log in to their accounts on all three platforms, meaning they also couldn't post or view anything.
A large number of smartphone users also complained about their WhatsApp which is not working both on desktops and cellphones.
Moreover, as per reports, internet speed is also slow for many users across the country.