ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has imposed a temporary ban on social media platforms across Pakistan on the directives of the Interior Ministry.

Social media websites, including Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Youtube, and Telegram will likely remain blocked from 11am to 3pm on Friday across the country, the Interior Ministry stated in a notification.

“In order to maintain public order and safety, access to certain social media applications has been restricted temporarily,” said the PTA. 

These directives are reportedly due to protests expected by members of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after Friday prayers today. The former party was declared a banned and proscribed organisation by the government yesterday, after three days of countrywide riots by TLP. The ban was implemented under Rule 11(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.

Areas in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad had also faced an internet outage on Thursday amid the ongoing operation against the banned religious party.

The internet outage has resulted in problems for the citizens, as a majority of workplaces have shifted 50 per cent work from home policy in line with the government directives. Moreover, online classes also came to a standstill due to suspension of the internet services.

On Monday, countrywide protests broke out following the arrest of TLP chief Saad Rizvi. The massive round of demonstrations came as a result of taking Rizvi into pre-emptive custody ahead of the 20 April deadline for the group’s demands to be put forth to parliament. The government subsequently banned the TLP and started a crackdown on its leadership.

According to an agreement with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, the PTI government had promised to put their demands before parliament which included policies like “expelling the French ambassador, severing ties with France and boycotting French products” within three months.


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