On Sunday evening, a nationwide disruption of social media platforms was reported by the internet monitor Netblocks, just hours before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was set to conduct a virtual fundraising telethon and unveil its election manifesto.
Netblocks stated that live metrics revealed a nation-scale disruption affecting platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube across Pakistan. The incident coincided with the PTI’s election fundraising telethon, leading to speculation about potential interference.
This disruption echoes a similar incident last month when internet outages were reported during a PTI virtual power show. The PTI had announced plans for a virtual fundraising telethon and manifesto launch at 9 pm on the same day. However, around 6 pm, users reported difficulty accessing social media platforms in various parts of the country, coupled with complaints about slow internet services.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) spokesperson Zaib Unissa, speaking to Dawn.com, claimed that internet services had been fully restored in the country. The PTA spokesperson asserted that all social media networks were operational, and the authority had not received any complaints.
PTI’s Zulfi Bukhari, however, alleged that the internet shutdown was a deliberate attempt to thwart the party’s fundraising efforts. The party condemned the shutdown as “absolutely shameful” and demanded the resignation of the IT minister for the perceived damage to the Pakistani populace.
PTI leader Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra noted that this incident marked another PTI online event marred by an internet shutdown. According to a report by Surfshark, a virtual private network company, Pakistan ranked third globally for new restrictions on the internet, with three imposed after Imran Khan’s arrest. The Surfshark report placed Pakistan behind Iran and India, citing Asia as the focal point for most internet shutdowns during the first half of 2023.