PTA Points Finger At Interior Ministry, Govt For Ban On Twitter (X)

Court gets no closer to uncovering the reasons for blocking a social media platform for over a month

PTA Points Finger At Interior Ministry, Govt For Ban On Twitter (X)

The national telecommunications and internet services regulator on Tuesday blamed the federal interior ministry and, by extension, the federal government for the month-long ban on social media platform 'X' (formerly known as Twitter).

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) made the disclosure on Tuesday during a hearing on a petition against banning social media platforms in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). IHC's Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided over the hearing.

During the hearing, PTA's counsel was asked who was responsible for rendering the platform inaccessible in Pakistan. The counsel remarked that the Interior Ministry was answerable for its closure, adding that while they were the regulator and had the authority to open or close platforms, they had acted on directions issued to them by the Interior Ministry via a letter. The counsel added that they were legally bound to comply with government directives.

Justice Farooq reminded PTA's counsel that social media platforms play an important role in the exchange of information by the public at large and that they can only be banned under specific laws for cogent, identifiable and substantiated reasons.

"Platforms can only be banned under the law," the judge remarked.

The court directed that summons be issued for the relevant and authorised officer from the federal interior ministry and adjourned further hearings until April 3.

The social media platform has faced intermittent outages since the turn of the year, and a blanket ban was imposed on February 8, when general elections were held. 
However, since February 17, the platform has been inaccessible in Pakistan through a normal internet subscription. However, it is still accessible after using readily available bypass technologies.