Home Latest News IHC Issues Notices to Information Ministry, PTA over ‘Ban’ on X

IHC Issues Notices to Information Ministry, PTA over ‘Ban’ on X

Social media portal has been sporadically blocked in Pakistan since Feb. 17, with local users accessing it using VPNs

by Staff Report

File photo. Farooq Naeem—AFP

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Information Ministry on a petition challenging the “ban” on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which has been available only sporadically in the country since Feb. 17.

The unofficial ban, which no authority has claimed responsibility for, has drawn severe criticism from rights bodies and journalists’ organizations, who have lamented censorship and muzzling of free speech. Last month, the U.S. also called on Pakistan to lift restrictions on social media platforms.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had directed the PTA to restore X services “without any interruption or disruption,” but access has remained sporadic, with users forced to utilize VPNs to use the platform.

Taking up a petition challenging the restricted access to X, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq questioned whether the platform was inaccessible. The petitioner’s counsel said it had been “banned” since Feb. 17. The IHC chief justice noted that the SHC had already issued an order on the matter and was informed that a contempt case was underway over authorities’ failure to implement the SHC’s directives.

Subsequently, the IHC issued notices to the respondents, including the information ministry and the PTA, and adjourned the hearing until next week.

The petition has argued that the ban on X is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution, pertaining to freedom of speech. It has further asserted that the ban is without lawful authority and “derogatory” to provisions of the Constitution and the fundamental rights guaranteed therein.

Last week, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi claimed the caretakers had no role in the blocking of X across Pakistan. He said the caretaker cabinet had not discussed anything or decided anything on the closure of the microblogging website. He had further claimed the PTA chairman was the relevant authority to question on the topic.

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