Services of social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, remained disrupted for the third consecutive day in Pakistan on Monday.

According to Downdetector, the outage was reported a little after 10:30am and persisted till noon. Services were restored around 12:24pm but were again disrupted after 1pm.

Downdetector, which tracks outages by collating status reports from several sources including users, showed that the areas most affected were Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Gujranwala among others.

The map provided by Downdetector highlights the areas where X outages were reported.
The map provided by Downdetector highlights the areas where X outages were reported.

The disruption makes it the third consecutive day where X services have been affected amid allegations of rigging in the February 8 polls.

On Saturday, internet monitor Netblocks had reported a nationwide disruption to X “amid escalating unrest and protests over allegations of election fraud, following a high-level resignation and public admission of vote manipulation by a senior election official”.

The outage was reported after former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha, in an explosive press conference, had accused the Election Commission of Pakistan and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of involvement in the “rigging” — a claim denied by the electoral watchdog and the top judge.

Chattha had claimed the candidates who were “losing” the elections “were made to win” and that the process to justify the manipulated results was still going in “an organised manner at some offices”.

On Sunday, Netblocks said its metrics showed that X had been restricted in Pakistan for 24 hours and called it “the latest and longest in a series of nation-scale internet censorship measures imposed by authorities as reports of election fraud emerge”.

Digital rights activist Usama Khilji highlighted on Sunday that X was inaccessible for many except via select virtual private networks (VPNs). “Most users complaining their VPNs are also blocked and the internet is slow,” he added.

Today, while commenting on a post by caretaker IT Minister Umar Saif, Khilji said the former was “using a VPN to tweet about two key IT initiatives in Pakistan as Twitter/X remains blocked for a third day”.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that shutting down the internet or any social media platforms “bleed online businesses and commerce and adds to the misery of an already fragile and struggling economy”.

“It also infringes on people’s right to democratic decision making, information and expression. This practice must stop immediately,” it said.

So far, the the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has remained tight-lipped on the disruption in services. When contacted, the authority said the query should be redirected to the interior ministry.

Speaking to Dawn.com, digital rights activist Nighad Dad said: “You cannot set down an entire platform and impose a blanket ban. This is a clear violation of fundamental rights.”

Dad further stated that in the current political scenario, such blanket bans would only increase chaos and increase disinformation.

“Whatever the reason may be for the outage, the public deserves transparency,” the activist added.

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