Internet shutdown due to PM Imran Khan arrest protest
An image showing restrictions on social media

Internet access is cut off in several regions of Pakistan, and access to social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, is completely banned. The cause of this social media blackout is reportedly the ongoing protests following the arrest of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, on Tuesday.

According to CyberNews, the Pakistan Interior Ministry has ordered a temporary suspension of all mobile data services. NetBlocks, a global internet monitoring service, also confirmed that social media platforms appeared to be facing restrictions from 11:30 AM on Tuesday. In addition to social media blocking, the real-time network activity shows that some regions of Pakistan are facing complete internet shutdowns, NetBlocks reported on Twitter.

Social media blocked in Pakistan amid protest against the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan

This is the second internet and social media shutdown following May 2022, when Pakistani authorities banned all internet connections. The reason behind the recent social media blackout and May 25, 2022, is mass protests.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan was terminated from his duties in May 2022, which provoked mass protests across Pakistan. The streets of Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar are in similar conditions following the arrest of ex-PM Imran Khan on alleged corruption charges related to his four years as Pakistan’s leader.

Ex-PM Imran Khan is the most popular leader of the nation, which has fulled clashes between military troops and supporters. Officials of three out of four provisions announced a curfew restricting all public gatherings after riots broke out in many cities nationwide against former PM Khan’s arrest.

According to NetBlocks, Pakistan’s move of blocking all access to the internet and social media is to limit and manage the “public’s freedom of assembly and right to information.”

Copywriter and blockchain developer Shahnaseeb B. Bhatti posted a Tweet confirming NetBlocks’ report and sharing that he could connect to the internet via Tor, a dark web browser.

One civilian died, and 12 were injured after Tuesday’s clashes, including Pakistani police officials

The protest in Pakistan is taking a violent turn following the arrest of ex-PM Imran Khan. Footage from Lahore shows protestors breaking the military corps commander’s house door and destroying his belongings. Protestors also set fire to the residence of PM Shabaz Sharif.

Supports of former PM Imran Khan seized the streets after PM Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called them to protest. In the nation’s capital Islamabad, protestors blocked the highway stopping access to the city. Furthermore, they pulled down street signs, parts of the overpass, set things on fire, and threw stones.

Social media blackout: restrict on Twitter Instagram and Facebook
An image of a police vehicle on fire in Pakistan (Image via Twitter)

Media reports show former ex-PM Imran Khan was arrested outside the high court. Pakistani officials are reportedly restricting access to the internet and social media to control and stop further gatherings of protestors.

Following the arrest, people used social media to circulate videos and news of the clashes and plan protests. Last August, Pakistani officials also cut off access to YouTube during a live stream of the former PM’s speech.

What’s your opinion about the ongoing protest in Pakistan? Share with us in the comments below. For more content, stay with us here at Spiel Times.

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