Pakistan’s media regulators blocked social media platform

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had no comment on the outage and government officials did not respond to repeated inquiries from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Human rights activists have demanded a full restoration of internet services and access to social media. Washington has also urged Pakistan to lift restrictions on X.

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The disruption was first noted over the weekend, when the political party of Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan announced protests against what it claims were rigged February 8 parliamentary elections.

In the vote, candidates backed by Khan, who was banned from running, won the majority of seats but fell short of the simple majority needed to form a government.

Elon Musk X profile on the screen of an iPhone

Elon Musk’s account on X, formerly Twitter, is displayed on the screen of a phone, and the . (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Protest organizers often use social media platforms to rally their followers to the streets and spread information about planned demonstrations.

Pakistan has witnessed increased political instability since the elections. The country’s election watchdog denies allegations by Khan’s party that the vote was stolen. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party or TPI said on Thursday that authorities imposed restrictions on X to suppress his voice on social media.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller expressed concern in a statement to reporters about the disruption and restrictions on freedom of expression and association in Pakistan.

“We continue to call on Pakistan to respect freedom of expression and restore access to a social network that has been restricted, including Twitter, now known as X,” Miller said. “We have emphasized and will continue to emphasize the importance of respecting these fundamental freedoms during our engagements with Pakistani officials.”

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Khan’s rivals, including former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, are trying to form a coalition government. Sharif replaced Khan after his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022. Khan has since been convicted of crimes in what his supporters call politically motivated measures to keep him out of office.

By Sam