The Sindh High Court (SHC) lifted the ban on TikTok after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) assured the court of issuing a ruling on the petitioner’s request by Monday.
The court had on July 28 ordered the telecom regulator to suspend the services of the video-sharing site on June 28 on a citizen’s petition, who was aggrieved by the “immorality and obscenity” on the mobile app.
During today’s hearing, the PTA apprised the court that it had blocked access to the app on June 30. It had requested the court to review its decision and allow it to restore the services.
The PTA’s counsel assured the court that it would expedite the process on the petitioner’s request and issue a ruling on it by July 5.
Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry has criticised the court’s verdict banning TikTok across Pakistan till July 8, terming it “judicial activism”.
The minister took to Twitter and warned of the consequences Pakistan will face in case it did not carry out judicial reforms. “Pakistan will never come out of its economic crisis if judicial reforms are not undertaken.”
This is not the first time the app has been banned in Pakistan. The app was first banned by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) over “immoral and indecent” content.
“Keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, PTA issued a final notice to the application,” PTA statement said. “However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions. Therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country,” read a notification issued on October 9, 2020.
“TikTok has been informed that the authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content,” PTA statement stated.
Later in March 2021, the app was banned again as the Peshawar High Court (PHC) ordered authorities to immediately ban video-sharing social app TikTok over sharing of ‘immoral content.’
The orders were issued by PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan, who was hearing a petition filed by a citizen seeking a ban on TikTok. He said that the ban not be removed till all objectionable content is removed.
The musical-chairs of banning and unbanning TikTok drew considerable criticism from people across Pakistan, as the app has a massive userbase cutting across geographic and class demographics.
Later in April 2021, the PHC reversed its decision and later allowed the government to unban TikTok. PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan said the application can be unblocked across Pakistan as long as “indecent” content is removed from it.
Sharing the news on Twitter, Fawad Chaudhry said: “My submission is let’s be careful while taking decisions that may effect [sic] the economic future of Pakistan.”
“We need a framework to encourage international companies so [as] to make Pakistan their investment hub,” he added.