The ban on social media giant X in Pakistan has persisted for a month, sparking apprehensions about digital communication accessibility and freedom of expression within the nation. Initially, the X ban in Pakistan began on February 17th, and it remains out of reach for users across Pakistan as of March 18th.

VPN Usage Surges Amidst Ongoing X Ban in Pakistan

Within this extended period, X intermittently surfaced for brief intervals, lasting mere minutes, compelling a surge in the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by a huge number of Pakistanis to bypass the restriction. Reports indicate governmental efforts to block VPNs, exacerbating users’ challenges in circumventing the ban.

IT expert Maujeeb Zahoor voices apprehensions over the wider importance of the ban, citing potential unrest among international companies and investors, thus warranting caution regarding long-term repercussions. Former Chairman of PASHA, Barkhan Saeed, downplays the impact on the IT industry, asserting its reliance on alternative platforms like Facebook and YouTube for advertising purposes.

Echoing similar concerns, IT expert Dr. M Rafi emphasizes the profound repercussions of X’s blockade on industries reliant on social media for marketing and customer engagement. He stresses that social media disruption extends beyond messaging, particularly impeding business operations and industry growth.

Government’s Silence Deepens Uncertainty

Inquiries regarding X’s status directed towards the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) were redirected to the Ministry of Interior, adding ambiguity to the situation. However, attempts to solicit clarity from the Ministry yielded no response, further shrouding the platform’s accessibility in uncertainty.

As the blockade of X enters its second month, concerns mount over its ramifications on the IT sector and digital freedom in Pakistan. Former Minister of IT, Dr. Umar Saif, advocates against bans on platforms like X, emphasizing the necessity of connectivity with the youth and the global community. Nonetheless, he emphasizes the importance of identifying and countering propaganda spread through social media to uphold social order.

Read more: Resolution to Ban Major Social Media Platforms Withdrawn from the Senate


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