ISLAMABAD: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were inaccessible in Pakistan on Saturday after having been temporarily restored late on Friday, Reuters witnesses said.
The Ministry of Interior suspended mobile broadband services across the country and blocked access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on Tuesday night amid unrest after former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested by the country’s anti-graft agency.
The social media giants were available again on Friday night but on Saturday were again inaccessible, the witnesses said.
The shutdown has resulted in a loss of economic productivity and digital services, including digital payments.
Owing to the suspension of the internet services, the telecommunication companies in Pakistan witnessed a loss of Rs2.46 billion in revenue, which also means a decrease of Rs861 million in tax revenue for the government as well.
According to an official of a telecom company, the mobile broadband services constitute around 60% of their total revenues. Therefore, on a daily-basis, they earn approximately Rs820 million. Additionally, the government receives around 35% of the revenue.
This calculation is based on the fact that the telecommunication companies earned roughly Rs500 billion from cellular services in the previous year. However, this is just an estimate from one industry. The overall economic loss to the country is likely to be massive.
The sudden suspension of the internet services, without a well-thought-out process, has caused life in the country to come to a standstill. The move has drawn widespread criticism from organisations like GSMA and Amnesty International. Many argue that this suspension is tantamount to a violation of fundamental rights.
The GSMA, a body that represents the interests of global mobile operators, etc., said that “alarmingly, the government has announced that the mobile internet shutdown is ‘indefinite’ which is a clear violation of the people’s right to access information and free expression”.
“The ban on the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also creates a permissive environment for other human rights violations under the darkness of the internet shutdown. The restrictions must be lifted immediately.” Rimmel Mohydin, regional campaigner at Amnesty International stated.
Today every aspect of the life in the country is connected with the online world. Businesses run their operations through online Enterprise Resource Management systems.
While the southern region, Sindh and Balochistan, and the side areas of the northern part of the country were relatively calm, they still experienced internet blockages.