Pakistan has been experiencing a severe internet outage since Tuesday, affecting millions of people and businesses across the country. The government has imposed restrictions on mobile broadband and social media apps, citing security reasons, after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan sparked widespread protests and violence.
Khan, who was arrested on charges of corruption and treason, was ordered to be released on Thursday by the Supreme Court, which termed his arrest illegal. However, the internet shutdown has not been lifted, leaving many Pakistanis in the dark about the latest developments and their implications.
The internet blackout has also disrupted the livelihoods of many people who rely on online services for their work and communication. Mohammed Nasir, a food delivery driver in Karachi, said he has lost 20 dollars over the past three days because he cannot receive or track his orders without mobile data. “Roadblocks and data outage have ruined my livelihood,” while speaking with Eurasia Media Network correspondent.
Similarly, Mohammad Fayyaz, who lives in a village in Punjab province, said he feels cut off from the rest of the country during a time of major political upheaval. “We use YouTube to watch the news, but with most social media apps being restricted since Tuesday, we feel disconnected from the events taking place in Islamabad or Lahore,” he said.
Monitors internet freedom, Pakistan’s internet connectivity dropped to 52% of normal levels on Tuesday night and has not recovered since then. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said the restrictions were imposed due to “security concerns” and that it was working to restore normal services as soon as possible.
However, many Pakistanis have expressed their frustration and anger over the internet shutdown, calling it a violation of their rights and a hindrance to their economic activities. Some have also accused the government of trying to suppress dissent and criticism amid the political crisis.
Several examinations have been canceled, especially those likely to be held under international invigilation. Kazim Khan a law student who is doing his degree at an overseas University said: “Our law paper has been cancelled today and it should be announced according to the new schedule, it’s pathetic and a waste of our time, and even our future is at stake.”
The internet outage is not the first one to hit Pakistan this year. In January, a major power breakdown plunged most of the country into darkness for several hours, causing partial internet blackouts as well. The frequent disruptions have raised questions about the reliability and resilience of Pakistan’s infrastructure and governance.