The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court (SHC) that the ban on social media platform X across the country since February 17 was imposed on orders issued by the Ministry of Interior following reports given by intelligence agencies.

The X website has been largely offline since February 17, with occasional service restorations, mainly after former commissioner Rawalpindi Liaquat Ali Chatta made a statement in front of the media claiming that the “elections were rigged”.

On Tuesday, PTA Chairman Hafeezur Rehman declared that he would raise the issue of X’s disruption with the interior ministry.

In a telephonic conversation with Dawn.com, Rehman, a retired major general, said: “Either the matter should be cleared or someone should take responsibility for it. The closure of social media forums is always directed by the interior ministry.”

A two-member SHC bench comprising Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmad Abbasi and Justice Abdul Mubeen Lakho today clubbed together four petitions, filed by lawyer Jibran Nasir, journalist Zarrar Khurho and others, against internet disruption at various times.

In the hearing, the PTA submitted in court a copy of a letter dated Feb 17 sent by the Ministry of Interior to the telecommunication authority, which instructed it to block social media platform X “immediately till further orders” but did not mention the reasoning for doing so.

In its response submitted in the court today, the PTA added that the interior ministry’s orders had come following reports given by intelligence agencies.

At the outset of the hearing, the court expressed its displeasure over the interior ministry’s failure to submit a written reply.

Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Khaleeq Ahmed sought more time on behalf of the interior ministry to submit the response.

Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmad Abbasi voiced his displeasure at DAG Ahmed and asked him to submit a “serious response”.

Later, DAG submitted the written response on behalf of the interior ministry, which stated that services were only disrupted on May 9 on orders from all provincial governments.

“Ministry of Interior issues orders for suspension of 3G/4G services only in cases where security of state and citizens is at stake,” it said.

The response did not comment on any other matter.

After adding the ministry’s response to the case record, the bench adjourned the hearing till April 17.

Opinion

Editorial

X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...
IMF’s projections
Updated 18 Apr, 2024

IMF’s projections

The problems are well-known and the country is aware of what is needed to stabilise the economy; the challenge is follow-through and implementation.
Hepatitis crisis
18 Apr, 2024

Hepatitis crisis

THE sheer scale of the crisis is staggering. A new WHO report flags Pakistan as the country with the highest number...
Never-ending suffering
18 Apr, 2024

Never-ending suffering

OVER the weekend, the world witnessed an intense spectacle when Iran launched its drone-and-missile barrage against...