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Pakistan: Elon Musk's X working with Shehbaz Sharif govt to 'understand concerns' amid ban

Pakistan's interior ministry on Wednesday said the platform's failure to address misuse necessitated a ban on the microblogging site. The decision to ban X (Twitter) was met with widespread criticism from human rights organisations, press bodies and political parties.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: April 18, 2024 18:24 IST
X, Twitter, Twitter ban in Pakistan
Image Source : FILE Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter).

Islamabad: Social media platform X (formerly Twitter), which was recently revealed to have been banned in Pakistan over national security concerns, said it is working with the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government to understand their concerns. "We continue to work with the Pakistani Government to understand their concerns," said X's Global Government Affairs on Wednesday in the first comments since the site was disrupted.

The Elon Musk-owned social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, was suspended in Pakistan on February 17 when former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Chattha accused the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of being involved in rigging the February 8 general elections. The disruption was criticised by political parties, human rights organisations and journalist bodies.

Pakistan banned X over national security concerns: Ministry

Pakistan's interior ministry on Wednesday told the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which was hearing a petition by journalist Ehtisham Abbasi against the disruption in the access to X, that the microblogging site was banned over national security and failure to adhere to the directives of the government, confirming a long-suspected shutdown. The government had not previously made any official announcements since users in Pakistan reported problems using X since mid-February.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry 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," read the report to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The report filed in the court said the interior ministry had  “asked for blocking of X (Twitter) immediately till further orders” on February 17 on the reports of intelligence agencies. "The decision to impose a ban on Twitter/X in Pakistan was made in the interest of upholding national security, maintaining public order, and preserving the integrity of our nation,” it said.

'X didn't comply with Pakistani authorities'

The ministry also blamed "hostile elements operating on X" for having "nefarious intentions to create an environment of chaos and instability, with the ultimate goal of destabilising the country and plunging it into some form of anarchy". The ministry saw the ban on X as a necessary step to "disrupt the activities of those elements and prevent them from achieving their destructive objectives".

It claimed that X had “not complied with the requests of Pakistani authorities” after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) forwarded numerous requests via the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take “significant action to block accounts involved in a defamatory campaign against the honourable chief justice of Pakistan”.

The latest revelation by Pakistan's interior ministry comes nearly a month after Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said that X was "already banned" when the new coalition government, led by Shehbaz Sharif, took the reins from the caretaker setup, and that there was no official notification for the clampdown on the platform.

Separately, the Sindh High Court, in a similar hearing, summoned a response from the Interior Ministry on the ban on X by May 9 and ordered it to rescind its February 17 letter within a week, which had disrupted the service. The Chief Justice of the court highlighted that the "law does not empower the interior ministry to act on reports forwarded by intelligence agencies"

(with inputs from PTI)

ALSO READ | Pakistan imposed ban on Twitter in February over national security concerns: Interior ministry




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