YouTube service was disrupted in parts of Pakistan on Tuesday evening ahead of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s address at a party power show in Peshawar, according to NetBlocks — an organisation that tracks internet outages.

NetBlocks noted that the disruption came despite the Islamabad High Court lifting the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s ban on Imran’s speeches.

“NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to limit political speech, given their disproportionate impact to fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom assembly,” the organisation said.

Prior to NetBlocks’ confirmation, a number of social media users had reported disruption in the website’s service.

The PTI and party leaders blamed the government for the development, adding that the ban would not be able to stop the party or Imran.

PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan was now “officially turned into a banana republic”.

“So YouTube blocked again suddenly by this fascist imported govt and its handlers. Really sick mindsets,” tweeted former human rights minister Shireen Mazari.

“Imran Khan’s speech will be heard one way or another you petty frightened political pygmies. Never thought state would use cyber warfare against its own people! Shameful.”

“Pakistan Government has once again blocked YouTube just to stop people from watching Peshawar jalsa speech of the most popular Pakistani political leader Imran Khan,” alleged party focal person Azhar Mashwani.

Digital rights advocate Usama Khilji said “enough is enough”, adding that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority couldn’t “block YouTube for all of Pakistan each time Imran Khan is addressing a rally”.

“This is unconstitutional censorship which has no basis under law. Stop making a joke of the Constitution and treating the country like a video game,” he tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, he said: “Welcome to digital martial law in Pakistan, where YouTube gets blocked each time a person that the establishment doesn’t like is speaking and their speech is live-streamed.”

He said this was “unacceptable paternalistic censorship” that undermined constitutional rights.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secretary general Farhatullah Babar, reacting to a tweet regarding the disruption, shared his reservations over such moves, saying: “A man may be imprisoned but not an idea.”

A similar incident occurred on August 21 on the night of Imran’s address to a party rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh. NetBlocks had confirmed that disruption as well.

“Real-time network data show the disruption in effect on some but not all mobile and fixed-line internet providers in Pakistan during the live-streamed speech. Access was restored after the speech concluded. The study is taken from a sample size of 100 measurements from 14 vantage points across Pakistan,” NetBlocks had said in a report.

Opinion

Editorial

UNGA speech
25 Sep, 2022

UNGA speech

CRISES test a nation’s resilience but also provide opportunities to rise and move forward. Prime Minister Shehbaz...
Dar’s return
Updated 25 Sep, 2022

Dar’s return

Dar will now be expected by his party to conjure up fiscal space for the govt to start spending ahead of the next elections.
Iran hijab protests
25 Sep, 2022

Iran hijab protests

FOR over a week now, Iran has been witnessing considerable tumult after a young woman died earlier this month in the...
Post-flood economy
Updated 24 Sep, 2022

Post-flood economy

WITH a third of the country — especially Sindh and Balochistan — under water, over 33m people displaced, and...
Panadol shortage
24 Sep, 2022

Panadol shortage

FROM headaches to fever to bodily pain — paracetamol is used ubiquitously in Pakistan as the go-to remedy for most...
Star-struck cops
24 Sep, 2022

Star-struck cops

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if ...