A spokesperson for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed on Saturday that while mobile internet services have been reinstated nationwide, there’s yet to be any directive to reactivate social media platforms. On May 9, the government had imposed restrictions on mobile internet and social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook following violent protests triggered by the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
Due to these restrictions, the information technology (IT) sector has reportedly experienced a staggering loss of Rs10 billion, and the telecom sector a loss of Rs2.5 billion within just three days. Government tax revenue also reportedly declined by approximately Rs860 million, as per sources from the telecom industry.
An official from a telecom company revealed that mobile broadband services account for about 60% of their total revenues, bringing in roughly Rs820 million daily, with the government receiving around 35% of this income. These figures are based on the estimated Rs500 billion revenue that telecommunication companies generated from cellular services last year.
The abrupt suspension of internet services, implemented without a comprehensive plan, has been heavily criticized by organizations like GSMA and Amnesty International, who argue that it infringes on fundamental rights. The GSMA, a representative body for global mobile operators, expressed concern over the government’s announcement of an ‘indefinite’ mobile internet shutdown, labeling it a violation of people’s rights to information and free speech.
Rimmel Mohydin, a regional campaigner at Amnesty International, stressed that the restrictions, particularly on social media platforms, facilitate other human rights violations by creating an environment of darkness due to the internet shutdown, and called for the immediate lifting of these restrictions.