Syed Amin-ul-Haque, the federal minister for information technology and telecommunications, distanced his ministry from the internet shutdown in Pakistan, claiming they were not consulted.
Haque revealed, according to Geo, that mobile internet services were suspended without consulting the Ministry of IT. Since 2017, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been operating independently, no longer under the Ministry of IT.
The minister explained that blocking social media sites or the internet was not a solution to any problem, and he exhorted individuals to maintain an open mind rather than use a VPN to access blocked sites.
Instead of completely blocking the internet, Haque posited that it could be blocked in specific areas. He emphasised that internet outages cost the IT industry billions of rupees in losses.
Following violent protests in response to the Rangers’ detention of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court, mobile broadband was suspended and access to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube was restricted. During the days-long protests, at least ten people were killed, and dozens were injured.
The government reinstated access to social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook after an almost seven-day suspension. The suspension was recommended by the ministry of the interior and is the longest continuous closure in a country that frequently suspends communication as a means of repressing unrest. As the economy remained fragile, telecom operators suffered an approximate revenue loss of Rs820 million, which was a significant strike to the sector.
Moreover, the government blocked major social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, while YouTube services were sluggish to control the spread of misinformation.