SHC orders restoration of social media apps including X

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‘You guys have conducted a very good election,’ quips CJ Abbasi while addressing public prosecutor

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered the restoration of all social media apps, including X (formerly Twitter), while hearing petitions against the shutdown of internet services on the election day in the country.

A two-member bench, headed by SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmad Abbasi, heard the petitions on Wednesday, expressing concern over the widespread shutdown of internet services during the crucial election period.

Amid political, economic and security challenges coupled with rigging allegations arising out of February 8 elections, the government’s fear of dissent forced it to take X as a threat and shut it down without giving any reasons.

It’s not the only one, as other social media applications, cellular services and internet frequently face blackout, leaving from the president to experts and media to common man to question the unannounced disruption and dub it an attempt to silent dissent.

The SHC chief justice made sarcastic remarks directed at the public prosecutor, commenting on the alleged irregularities in the election process.

“You guys have conducted a very good election,” said Chief Justice Abbasi, addressing the public prosecutor, highlighting the criticism and allegations of irregularities raised by national and international observers and media outlets.

Also read: X becomes govt’s first target

The chief justice further remarked, “You shut down the internet…you did not allow people to contest elections. You people did not allow anyone to run an election campaign,” suggesting that the internet shutdown may have hindered the democratic process.

During the hearing, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) counsel stated that the instructions to shut down internet services came from the Ministry of Interior, and they were merely implementing those instructions.

Questioning the rationale behind the internet shutdown during an election, the court raised concerns about the impact on the democratic process. The PTA counsel reiterated that they followed the instructions received from the interior ministry, emphasising the security concerns associated with running a smooth election.

Responding to the PTA counsel’s explanation, Chief Justice Abbasi made another sarcastic comment, stating, “A very good election has been conducted by you people, and there is a lot of buzz going on all over the world. Before things get out of hand, try to fix them beforehand. You guys do your job better; we’ll do ours.”

The court subsequently ordered the restoration of all social media apps, including X, and adjourned the hearing until March 5. The court sought an explanation from the concerned authorities regarding the suspension of internet services on the election day, urging transparency and accountability in the matter.

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