|Daily Jang reporting the Twitter Shutdown|
Image Copyright Daily Jang Group Pakistan (www.jang.com.pk)
So far the news coming from various sources share that this has been done in lieu of raising awareness against the religious and contentious online content that was floated on Facebook on 20th May. The authorities are taking this step to register that no such activity will be tolerated that is against the religious sentiments of the citizens of Pakistan. This ban and shutdown of Twitter.com is intended to convince foreign companies and Internet Content providers globally to remove all such religiously offensive content to Muslims.
The Daily DAWN (Pakistan) reports here the Chairman PTA Dr. Yaseen has put the blame that the orders came from the Ministry of Information Technology MoIT Government of Pakistan yesterday on 19th May 2020. The reality of the situation is that this ban is believed to be suggested by a PTA official present during the meeting at the MoIT.
According to another report by the Associated Press, Dr. Yaseen stated that they had been negotiating with Twitter until last night, but they did not agree to remove the stuff, so they had to block it whereas the instructions to block the site came from Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and the ministry officials are still trying to make Twitter agree, and once they remove that objected material the site is expected to be unblocked.
The Express Tribute reports here that MoIT has claimed that it attempted getting through to Twitter authorities and sent five faxes to the micro-blogging website but Twitter responded by saying that they “cannot stop any individual doing anything of this nature on the website”.
Various sources also reported that the Interior Minister Rehman Malik tweeted earlier in the morning that the government had no plans to impose restrictions on Twitter and Facebook assuring the citizens of Pakistan that both Twitter and Facebook will continue to be accessible throughout Pakistan. He also told his twitter stream followers not to believe in rumours. The Minister also remarked to a New York Times reporter's question claiming that there are reports that the government intended to restrict access to Twitter by saying that "Why (should) I even think of doing so?". PK Politics Blog posted a screenshot of the Minister's Tweets:
|Image from the PK Politics Blog here|
The Pakistani electronic media has quoted the Minister of IT Raja Parvez Ashraf that the government could restrict access to Twitter and Facebook as the sites were being used to circulate blasphemous caricatures. Last night, rumors were circulating that Facebook.com will also be shutdown as well as Google. Facebook.com was not taking strong steps to remove religiously offensive content to Muslims and Google.com was still bringing up searches and links to such content online.
The authorities claim to be in direct contact with the responsible personnel at Twitter.com and Facebook.com. Mark Zuckerberg already has a warrant for arrest in Pakistan and should be careful incase he wants to visit Pakistan for his honeymoon. On the other hand, PTA and MoIT continue to take positions for the citizen of Pakistan without consulting them through a multistakeholder or public consultation process. All such attempts have been backfiring on the reputation of Pakistan's Information Society and Regulators tainting it in the global Knowledge Economy.
So far the the whole world and audience on the web is mocking Twitter.com's shutdown in Pakistan . The Internet and World Wide Web is flooded the world over with this news as Pakistan joins the league of countries that ban twitter.com and are considered to be repressing Freedom of Expression.