SHC asks interior ministry to revoke X blockade order within a week

News Desk
Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday to revoke its letter regarding blockade of social media platform X within one week.

“What are you [interior ministry] achieving via shutting down trivial things [...] The world must laugh at us,” SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi said while hearing multiple petitions filed by Zarrar Khuhro, Jibran Nasir and others.

The SHC chief justice’s remarks came as X, which is used by millions of Pakistanis, has been blocked since February owing to the government’s decision to curb access to the social media platform citing national security threats.

Last month, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) told the court that it blocked the social media platform after receiving directions from the Ministry of Interior and intelligence agencies.

The PTA said the directions for temporary suspension of mobile internet data service, social media websites and applications were only issued by the said ministry after careful consideration of all the relevant reports and circumstances.

Following the regulatory body’s remarks, the interior ministry, in a separate case, informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that “content uploaded on the internet” is a “threat” to the country’s national security. During the hearing on Wednesday, the SHC chief justice highlighted that the “law does not empower the interior ministry to act on reports forwarded by intelligence agencies”. Lamenting the blockade, the petitioners lawyer said using X and other social media platforms does not lead to “blasts”.

“In hindsight [it seems that] no justification was given to suspend X,” the SHC chief justice said, adding the court will issue its orders if the interior ministry did not withdraw the directives issued on February 17. The court then adjourned the hearing till May 9, directing the Ministry of Interior to present its reasons behind the blocking of the social media platform on the said date.