Social media suspended in Pakistan, interior ministry says without citing reasons

ANI
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Islamabad [Pakistan], April 16 (ANI): Social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram have been suspended in Pakistan from 11 am till 3 pm, the interior ministry said on Friday.

The ministry told Geo News that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had suspended the social media platforms on its instructions.

The immediate reason for the suspension of services was not clear as of yet.

The action was taken after a letter was sent to the PTA chairman by the interior ministry. The ministry, in the letter, had requested the PTA to take action against the issue "immediately".

"I am directed to refer to the subject cited above and to state that complete access to social media platforms may be blocked from 11 am to 3 pm on April 16 2021, across the country," Abdul Razaq the Section officer of the ministry wrote in the letter.

"It is requested that immediate action may be taken on the subject matter under the information to this ministry," he added.

A PTA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Geo News: "In order to maintain public order and safety, access to certain social media applications has been restricted temporarily."

However, according to various media reports, social media sites shut down in Lahore as law enforcement agencies expect TLP rioters to hit the streets after Friday prayers.

The TLP is protesting against the arrest of their leader Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was taken into custody earlier this week, and blasphemous caricatures published in France. The protests have turned violent and several casualties have also been reported.

At least three people -- including two policemen -- have been killed in the protests, according to Geo News.

The demonstrators have demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned.

According to media reports, the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government signed an agreement with the TLP in November last agreeing to expel the French Ambassador.

The TLP launched a massive protest in November last year against the cartoons but dispersed after the agreement with the government to expel the Ambassador by February. The deal was extended until April 20. (ANI)