ISLAMABAD: As it faces an unspoken ban on public gatherings and rallies across the country, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday attempted to outwit its detractors by organising a power show on social media to rejuvenate its supporters in the lead-up to polls.

The online gathering, however, did face some disruptions. Users reported having difficulty accessing social media platforms in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad shortly after 8pm. Users also complained about internet services being slow, Dawn.com reported.

“Live metrics show a nation-scale disruption to social media platforms across #Pakistan, including X, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube,” said NetBlocks, an internet tracking agency on ‘X’, formerly Twitter.

Just minutes after the start of the meeting, which was primarily broadcast via YouTube, the number of viewers reached 72,487 and half an hour later, the number swelled to 89,190. Later on, the number of viewers remained at 70,000 to 80,000 for one hour before dropping to 53,000 after two hours.

However, the PTI claimed that the real-time viewers on YouTube crossed one million and in just 90 minutes 124,000 people subscribed to its channel.

Party tries to rejuvenate support base; NetBlocks reports ‘loss of access’ to social media platforms across the country

During the online gathering, former minister Taimur Khan Jhagra touted the achievements of former prime minister Imran Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said the former premier initiated the health card scheme, which was the reason the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elected him twice.

Imran Khan’s former chief of staff Dr Shahbaz Gill also spoke on the occasion. He claimed initially feudal class and then industrialists were brought to power but Imran Khan came from the “middle class and changed everything”.

Mr Gill claimed YouTube and ‘X’ were being disrupted to stop the transmission of the public meeting.

Former KP health minister Atif Khan said Imran Khan brought young people into politics. Speaking about his party founder, he said the country and the army “belong to him and no one has the right to question his loyalty towards the country”.

PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari said that in Pakistan everybody condemned the May 9 riots but efforts were being made to link these riots to the PTI. He said Imran Khan “never believed in violence”. According to Mr Bukhari, internet transmission was being disrupted across the country.

PTI Women Wing President Kanwal Shauzab said that “they were missing the presence” of Imran Khan. She claimed Pakistan’s women were “kept behind by all political parties but Imran Khan was the only one who gave courage to women and brought them into politics and gave them political awareness”.

Former federal minister Zartaj Gul said people faced difficulties but still supported the PTI. She said that efforts were underway to make a person premier who does not understand foreign policy and economy. “We will live and die with Imran Khan,” she said.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2023

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