Pakistan experienced a widespread outage of internet services and major social media platforms on Saturday evening. The incident, which affected users predominantly in major urban centers such as Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, has raised questions about the possible intervention of the authorities in digital communication channels.
According to reports from Downdetector, a service that monitors internet outages, the disruption began shortly after 6 pm local time. Users found themselves unable to access popular social media sites including X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and the streaming giant YouTube. Additionally, many reported a general sluggishness in internet services, significantly hampering online communication and access to information.
The timing of the outage coincided with a planned virtual gathering organized by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the political party led by the incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan. This “virtual jalsa” was meant to be a significant event for the PTI, leveraging digital platforms to rally support amidst ongoing political tensions in the country.
The simultaneous nature of the internet and social media disruptions with the PTI event has led to speculations about the involvement of Pakistani authorities. Critics and observers have pointed out the potential use of digital censorship as a tool to stifle political dissent and control the narrative during politically sensitive times.
The incident has brought to the forefront the vital role of digital platforms in modern political discourse and the implications of disrupting these channels. In a country like Pakistan, where social media and the internet have become central to political mobilization and public discourse, such disruptions raise concerns about freedom of expression and the right to access information.