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the devastating toll of Internet shutdown

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the devastating toll of Internet shutdown

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Nabil Tahir/Yusra Salim

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Design by: Mohsin Alam

PUBLISHED
May 21, 2023


KARACHI:

In the wake of the sudden arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan, a wave of unprecedented Internet blockage swept across the country, plunging millions of Pakistanis into a state of digital isolation. For three agonising days, the nation’s online connectivity came to an abrupt halt, profoundly impacting various sectors of the economy and disrupting the lives of countless individuals who depend on the Internet for their livelihoods.

The repercussions of this forced digital outage were far-reaching, affecting a wide range of individuals and industries that have become increasingly reliant on the Internet for their daily operations. From ride-hailing drivers and delivery services to freelancers, online marketers, small businesses, and home-run enterprises, the absence of Internet connectivity struck a crippling blow, leaving these individuals and entities in dire straits.

The disruption caused by the Internet shutdown extended beyond mere economic inconvenience. People working remotely or from home found themselves unable to carry out their professional obligations, while social media content creators struggled to stay connected with their audiences. Online health services, crucial for remote consultations and medical assistance, were suddenly rendered inaccessible, posing potential risks to the well being of countless patients. Even essential services such as ATM and biometric systems faltered, further exacerbating the chaos and inconvenience faced by the populace.

Design by: Mohsin Alam

As the dust settles and Pakistan regains its digital pulse, the long-term consequences of this Internet blockage loom large. Start-ups seeking seed funding, already facing formidable challenges, now confront additional hurdles stemming from the disruption in their operations and investor confidence. The loss of trust and reliability associated with such unplanned outages could have lasting ramifications for the country’s digital economy, undermining its potential for growth and innovation.

Additionally, amidst the Internet outage, a surge in the usage of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services was observed as individuals sought alternative means to access social media platforms. VPNs provided a workaround for many, allowing them to bypass the restrictions and reconnect with their online communities. This phenomenon highlighted the resilience and determination of Pakistanis to stay connected despite the imposed limitations. However, relying on VPNs came with its own set of challenges, such as decreased Internet speeds and potential security risks. The widespread adoption of VPNs in response to the Internet blockage underscores the essential role that social media plays in facilitating communication, expression, and connectivity in today’s digital age.

According to Simon Migliano the Head of Research at Top10VPN, a website that reviews and rates VPN services said, “The day [Thursday] finished with VPN demand being 1,320 per cent higher than the 28-day average prior to the social media blocks.”

Here, we delve into the official and personal stories of those most affected by the three-day Internet outage in Pakistan. We aim to shed light on the profound impact experienced by daily wage workers, entrepreneurs, and various online service providers. Furthermore, we examine the broader implications of such disruptions, considering the potential long-term consequences for the country and its nascent startup ecosystem.

Digital daily wage dilemma

In an era where ride-hailing services and online delivery platforms have become integral to the daily lives of many Pakistanis, the sudden Internet blockage posed significant challenges for the individuals who depend on these services to earn a livelihood. Ride-hailing drivers and delivery service providers found themselves thrust into a state of uncertainty as their primary source of income vanished overnight. With no Internet access to connect with customers, accept orders, or navigate through busy streets, these essential workers faced a daunting dilemma.

The Internet blockage affected both the company and the individuals who depend on the daily wages they earn through ride-hailing and delivery services like Careem, InDrive, Bykea, FoodPanda, and Krave Mart.

We sought insights from Bykea, an IT company that provides mobility and delivery services, on how their operations have been impacted by the mobile broadband suspension. Rafiq Malik, the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), shed light on the significant challenges they have faced since the suspension came into effect.

According to Bykea’s spokesperson, “We are at a standstill since the suspension. Bykea is an IT company that offers mobility and delivery services, and we cannot operate without the Internet. A blanket mobile internet suspension has inconvenienced and left over a hundred thousand daily commuters stranded and put out of work another twenty-five thousand daily Driver Partners just on our network.”

The suspension of mobile Internet services has not only affected Bykea but also impacted all IT-enabled services in Pakistan. Transportation, telecom, mobile banking, e-commerce, courier, and food delivery have all experienced a notable decline in business transactions. “These sectors heavily rely on seamless internet access to facilitate deliveries, movement, and financial transactions,” said Bykea’s spokesperson.

When asked about the complaints from riders regarding their livelihoods, Bykea’s spokesperson confirmed, “Yes, they are complaining because all crowd-sourced Driver Partners are essentially daily wage earners. At Bykea, we have north of twenty-five thousand Driver Partners working with us daily. For simplicity, let’s say on average each of them earns a thousand rupees a day… that is close to a hundred thousand dollars a day loss for our fleet. When you add up all the IT-enabled service players in the country, the daily revenue loss is over half a million dollars.”

Some of the companies understood the difficulties being faced by the riders and the staff and offered compensation. The company acknowledges the challenges posed by the Internet outage and lack of mobile data but continues to operate its service from 8:00 am to 2:00 am daily.

“Riders, who also work for other companies operating on different models, have been affected by the reliance on mobile data during the delivery process. Krave Mart is making efforts to compensate them by offering extra money per order or bonuses. Additionally, on-ground support staff was present to continuously assess the situation in serving zones and provided support to riders and mart staff,” said Krave Mart in a statement.

Haziq Ahmed, COO and Co-Founder of Krave Mart, said, “We understand that our riders are facing difficulties due to the reliance on mobile data during deliveries. We are committed to supporting them and are exploring ways to provide additional incentives to compensate for any loss in earnings.”

To ensure the delivery of goods to customers’ doors, the company adapted its operations. However, this upsurge in orders has impacted the business’s operations and growth prospects, as riders now spend extra time trying to connect with rider support and customers while delivering orders.

To address this issue, Krave Mart assigned additional rider support agents to smoothen the delivery process, although it impacted the cost efficiency of operations. Meeting the increased demand without incurring higher costs became challenging. Nevertheless, the company remained committed to providing the best possible service and is exploring ways to optimise operations while prioritising rider safety and support.

To keep their riders connected with customers, Krave Mart connected them to available in-store Wi-Fi networks. Offline maps were downloaded to assist them in navigating routes, and they were instructed to use phone calls for customer communication.

Direct losses

Directly impacted were the individuals who rely on online delivery services for their livelihood. The Express Tribune talked to some of the individuals who depend on delivery services to earn a daily wage. These individuals, like thousands of others, have registered with multiple delivery platforms to maximise their earnings. However, the Internet shutdown has posed numerous challenges for them, such as difficulty in contacting customers and navigating routes without proper guidance. Moreover, the closure of Internet services has created additional hardships for people already struggling with inflation and financial constraints.

Living in one room rented house in Surjani Town, Amjad Azim has registered himself with two delivery services and earns Rs600-700 a day after deductions and petrol expenses. “In this day and age when 5kg oil costs more than Rs3,000, how do you think one can manage without bringing a single rupee home for three days straight,” said Azim who looks after his wife, mother, and two children aged 4 and 6.

He has registered himself with two delivery services so that he can get more orders and if one is down he can use the other. “I joined the services in 2020 after I lost my job in a SITE area garment factory during the Covid pandemic… since then, my situation has been largely manageable as I earn daily,” Azim shared. That situation changed with the three-day Internet restrictions.

“Even after restrictions were lifted, phones were not working properly and I was unable to customer calls for location guidance,” he explained. “On May 12, I had to spend half an hour to understand the route because Internet was partially open and mobile calls were disrupted.”

Azim’s challenges were no different than that of thousands who earn from such delivery services be it for food or packages, or ride-hailing services. Atif Khan, 28, works at a food delivery service; sharing his story, he said, “The margin I receive from each delivery is not much but sometimes people are generous enough to tip us an extra Rs10-20.”

“That itself accumulates to a good amount at the end of the day, so I usually get some chocolate or candies for my daughter. But last week was so bad in terms of work that I wasn’t even able to manage daily expenses,” he lamented.

Atif understood the company couldn’t be blamed in such scenarios: “Because of Internet closure, they didn’t generate much business. How would they compensate us,” he asked. “The government needs to realise that in addition to making life difficult for common people with inflation, this was yet another burden for those whose livelihood is connected to Internet,” he sighed.

As the situation deteriorated across Pakistan, things were still better in Karachi on the security front. Offices as such remained open and even exams scheduled between May 9 and 12 went ahead as planned. Internet closure, however, created a nightmare for employees who commute to their jobs using ride-hailing and students who need the Internet to prepare.

“I travel to and from work via Careem or InDrive whatever I get at a reasonable rate but the trouble I had to face with no signals to inform my family that I had reached safely was frustrating,” said Zunaira Asif* who works at an office at Karachi’s II Chundrigar Road and takes ride-hailing services from her residence in Gulshan daily. “The government has no sense that closure of such services will only create problems instead of solving them. Each time such measures are taken, it takes us back to the Stone Age. Can we even afford this when we are already short of money,” she questioned.

“Political activists on both sides of this conflict kept their campaigns going with VPNs, but that tool is of no use to those who work outside of homes and offices. We’re left with no choice but to criticise the system,” Zunaira added.

Ingenuity in face of adversity

University student Javed Malik, 22, took it upon himself to support his family. His father, Malik Shahid, is the sole provider for the family through his work as a delivery and ride-hailing service driver. Concerned about his father’s safety, Javed decided to take his father’s motorbike and venture out himself to earn money and bring home food.

Aware of the potential dangers on the city streets, Javed believed that he would be better equipped to handle any unforeseen circumstances compared to his father, given his youth. “I knew that the situation of the city was not good and anything can happen out on the roads. So instead of my father going out, I decided to go out myself,” said Javed.

Despite the lack of mobile Internet connectivity, Javed utilised a clever strategy to continue working despite the lack of mobile Internet connectivity. Using the broadband connection at home, he opened the ride-hailing app and began searching for available rides using the Wi-Fi. Uncertain about his chances of success, considering that customers were aware of the Internet shutdown, he took a chance.

“I took a chance and as soon as I opened the app, I got a delivery ride from Malir to Nazimabad. I was a bit concerned about the distance of the ride but then I accepted and called the customer. Even he was concerned about how I would manage. I decided to ask every customer that once I reach their location, if they can connect to their Wi-Fi and I can start and end the ride. If they agreed, then I took the order; otherwise, I had to decline,” said Javed.

To his surprise, some customers were willing to cooperate with Javed’s workaround. They agreed to connect to their Wi-Fi network, enabling him to initiate and conclude the ride using the Internet connection. Although the number of orders was not substantial, Javed was able to earn a decent amount under the circumstances.

However, Javed faced a challenge in finding his next ride. To maintain the Internet connection, he had to wait outside the drop-off location until he secured his next job, unable to move around freely.

Javed’s resourcefulness and determination to support his family in the face of adversity highlights the resilience and adaptability of individuals during difficult times.

Careem also has introduced an offline booking system in Karachi. They offer three dedicated helplines for customers to book rides manually. This alternate method aims to facilitate movement to essential locations like hospitals, educational institutions, and airports. Customers could pre-book rides up to 90 minutes in advance by sending an SMS or a message/voice note on WhatsApp. The message should include their registered name, phone number, and pickup/drop-off location details. Careem’s offline booking option provides a convenient solution for customers during Internet disruption.

Bykea already uses an offline method where the customer just has to send a miss call and the representative will call him back and ask for the location and send the rider. But as phone calls were also compromised in some locations so that also didn’t work well.

Freelancers in limbo

The freelance industry, known for its flexibility and reliance on digital connectivity, faced an unprecedented challenge during the three-day Internet blockage in Pakistan. Freelancers, who depend on constant online access to secure projects, communicate with clients, and deliver their work, found themselves thrust into uncharted territory as their digital lifeline was abruptly severed. The sudden disruption not only posed immediate obstacles but also raised concerns about the long-term implications for this burgeoning workforce. The freelancers struggled and were resilient as they navigated through a period of Internet outage; they face unique predicaments and employed innovative solutions to stay afloat in the face of uncertainty.

The freelancing community plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy. Pakistan ranks as the fourth largest global hub for freelancers, with a workforce of 3.5 million individuals. The suspension of Internet services for three consecutive days inflicted severe repercussions on this sector. According to Ibrahim Amin, Chairman of the Pakistan Freelancers Association, the IT freelance industry is making a loss of almost $2 million a day due to the suspension of Internet services.

“Freelancers encountered myriad challenges during the internet closure. They were unable to connect with their clients, deliver their work, or meet critical deadlines. As a result, they suffered substantial financial losses and faced potential damage to their professional reputations,” told Tufail Ahmed Khan, CEO Pakistan Freelancers Association (PAFLA). He also told that the interruption disrupted their reliance on online platforms and collaborative tools for communication, project management, and efficient workflows.

The freelance industry heavily depends on the Internet for securing clients, marketing services, fulfilling work obligations, and facilitating seamless financial transactions. The abrupt suspension of Internet connectivity severely impeded these essential activities, resulting in financial setbacks and missed opportunities.

Regarding whether the Internet closure was the right approach to handle the situation, it’s important to acknowledge that from the perspective of supporting the interests of freelancers and the freelance industry as a whole. “While I understand the government’s need to address the situation, it’s crucial to explore alternative strategies that minimise the impact on online workers and businesses. Collaborative efforts between the government, industry stakeholders, and freelancers’ associations can help develop contingency plans to ensure the smooth functioning of online work during challenging times, while also addressing any underlying issues that may have led to the internet closure,” added Tufail.

As the CEO of PAFLA, he emphasised the belief that it is crucial to explore alternative approaches to address political situations without compromising the livelihoods of freelancers. In this digital age, the Internet plays an indispensable role in various facets of our lives, including the freelancing industry. While the government had to respond to prevailing political circumstances, it is imperative to seek alternative measures that mitigate the impact on vital services such as Internet connectivity.

Collaborative efforts among all stakeholders can lead to innovative solutions that strike a balance between the need for security, stability, and the uninterrupted functioning of critical services. It is crucial to address political challenges in a manner that minimizes disruptions to people’s livelihoods. Looking ahead, it is essential to explore alternative strategies that safeguard individuals’ rights to Internet access while effectively addressing political issues through non-disruptive means.

“The impact of the three-day internet closure on Pakistan’s freelance industry is substantial, considering its recent surge and the considerable number of individuals involved. The financial losses incurred during this period, coupled with the potential long-term ramifications, present significant challenges for freelancers and the overall economy,” explained Tufail.

It is imperative for the government to consider the economic implications when making decisions that affect essential services like the Internet. In an era of escalating inflation, it becomes even more crucial to devise strategies that address political issues without imposing further burdens on the economy and its citizens. Striking a delicate balance between maintaining stability and preserving robust economic growth must remain a top priority.

“I work in a bank and also work with a digital company after my office hours, the idea was to make extra money and make ends meet, but such closures are not helpful as all of my clients are abroad and without internet not just my work suffered but also I might have lost my clients because with such uncertainty they can’t rely on Pakistani market,” told Fardeen Khan adding that her elder sister who works for a company that deals in content writing used VPN for her work as her clients are mostly time-bound and also have deadlines to meet which she or her company couldn’t afford to as their business runs on the same criteria.

“One can explain and give such excuses of Internet closure to local clients but bringing up such excuses with international clients only ruins the image and maybe they won’t give you work the next time,” she explained.

Apart from the freelancers, the outage has had a significant impact on individuals who rely on working from home. With connectivity abruptly severed, the productivity of remote workers has plummeted. “The ability to communicate, collaborate, and access essential online resources has been severely hindered, and we struggled to meet deadlines and maintain the usual workflow. The absence of internet connectivity has disrupted the work-from-home routine, creating a challenging environment for us who heavily depend on digital tools and platforms,” said Fatima who works remotely for a foreign-based company. “We don’t have any alternatives, once the mobile Internet is blocked and all the load comes on the broadband, the speed and connectivity are challenged. For three straight days, I had to travel to my mom’s place to work but still missed deadlines which will have an impact on my performance evaluation.”

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Small businesses hit hardest

Small businesses, particularly those operating through online platforms were dealt a severe blow. These virtual market stalls, once bustling with activity and sales, have fallen silent amidst the Internet outage. Small business owners, who heavily relied on the digital marketplace to reach customers and sustain their operations, now face unprecedented challenges.

Other home-run enterprises, which rely on Internet connectivity for their daily operations, also found themselves in disarray during the Internet outage. These small businesses, operated from the comfort of homes, have faced significant challenges as their primary means of communication, marketing, and sales suddenly disconnects. The perspectives of home-based entrepreneurs during this time have been focused on overcoming obstacles and seeking alternative solutions to keep their businesses afloat.

Kabir Bin Akmal, the owner of Metalore, an online furniture store, shared the significant impact of the Internet outage on their business operations. As Metalore operates solely online, they heavily rely on social media platforms for receiving orders. However, during the three-day Internet blockage, their access to social media was blocked, resulting in a complete halt in order placements. Additionally, a previously running ad campaign on the platform went to waste, as neither the campaign could be paused nor potential customers could view it, leading to a complete absence of orders during that period.

The impact of the outage extended beyond order placement for Metalore. Kabir explained, “The orders that were due for delivery on that week were compromised and delayed. The courier companies were not taking the couriers as they were also facing issues in getting things delivered.” This led to customer dissatisfaction and the backlog of orders created during the outage continues to impact Metalore even after a week, as they still struggle to regain momentum in both order placement and timely deliveries.

Furthermore, Kabir mentioned the delayed payments from clients due to the network disruption. He noted, “The payments were also delayed from the clients as the network was not working, and the mobile banking apps rely on the network.” This further compounded the challenges faced by Metalore during the outage, affecting their cash flow and financial stability.

Kabir’s quotes emphasise the significant impact of the Internet outage on Metalore’s operations. The inability to receive orders, delays in deliveries, and payment complications created a substantial setback for the online furniture store. These first-hand experiences shed light on the disruption and frustration faced by businesses heavily reliant on online platforms during periods of connectivity breakdown.

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No Internet, no engagement

Social media content creators have also been hit hard by Internet blockage, experiencing a void in connection and engagement with their audiences. These creators, who rely on digital platforms to share their content and interact with followers, have found themselves in a challenging position. Without Internet access, they have been unable to publish new content, respond to comments, or engage with their online communities.

Some of the creators used VPNs to get access to their profiles and post content but according to them, it was not as fruitful as it used to be. The reach of the content was not up to the mark as the VPN changed their region.

Farheena Latif, a food influencer, was unable to share her daily updates and engage with her followers during the outage. The absence of new content not only impacted engagement metrics but also affected her partnerships with brands that rely on her online presence to promote their products.

“I had to post some paid content but she wasn’t able to due to which her payment was also not made. In the three days I lost around 200k rupees,” she said adding that this is not a daily affair. “We get this kind of paid post twice or thrice a month, but due to inflation the brands have already cut down their budgets and then this Internet outage happened. We rely on this income to run households.”

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Digital lifeline snapped, endangering lives

The suspension of Internet services in Pakistan severed the digital lifeline for online health services, putting lives at risk. Health tech companies that provide virtual consultations, telemedicine, and online healthcare platforms have been severely impacted by the Internet outage. These services, which have become a crucial means of accessing medical care, have experienced significant disruption, hindering patients’ ability to receive timely and critical healthcare support.

Patients, on the other hand, have faced numerous challenges in accessing critical healthcare services. Those who relied on online consultations and remote monitoring to manage chronic conditions or seek medical advice found themselves stranded without the necessary support. The inability to connect with healthcare professionals in real-time and the disruption in accessing electronic medical records have further complicated the situation, leaving patients in a vulnerable position.

Rukhsana* who takes care of her elder brother who is bedridden had booked an online appointment with the doctor of her brother as he was not well and was not able to travel to the hospital. “We had an appointment right at the time when the Internet was blocked. We don’t have broadband at our home so we were not able to connect online. At first, we couldn’t understand the issue but then saw the news. This resulted in late check-up and treatment. Till then he had to suffer,” she said.

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Fractured financial system

The seamless functioning of financial services relies heavily on the integration of technology, particularly through ATMs and biometric systems. However, the three-day Internet blockage in Pakistan brought these vital services to a grinding halt, leaving individuals and businesses grappling with a fractured financial system. ATMs, which provide convenient access to cash, became inaccessible, leaving people stranded without a means to meet their daily financial needs. Simultaneously, biometric services, crucial for secure identification and verification, were rendered inoperable, hindering various financial transactions and causing widespread inconvenience.

A 65-year-old lady, who was planning to travel to Umrah in a few days, encountered difficulties when trying to exchange her money through a money exchanger company. Although the money exchangers were open and operating, they faced a hurdle due to the requirement of biometric verification from NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority), which relied on Internet connectivity. As a result, the transaction could not be completed.

“I already face trouble in getting the biometric verification as the prints on my thumb are not clear due to age. I have been going to the money exchange for three days but every day they are unable to complete the transaction. Now we have to travel and will face trouble,” said the lady, expressing her frustration and concern over the inability to exchange her money due to the Internet blackout.

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The long-term fallout

The Internet blockage in Pakistan has not only had immediate impacts on various sectors but has also raised concerns about the long-term fallout, particularly for startups and seed funding. The startup community, known for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, is now grappling with the repercussions of the connectivity disruption. Startups, which heavily rely on Internet access for operations, customer acquisition, and growth, are facing a challenging environment that threatens their viability and growth prospects.

In response to the Internet blackout, the startup community has mobilised to assess the damage and seek support. Entrepreneurs and startup founders are actively exploring alternative strategies to minimise the impact of the connectivity disruption. They are reassessing their business models, seeking offline channels for communication and transactions, and collaborating with other stakeholders to find solutions. The resilience and adaptability of the startup community are being tested as they navigate through uncharted territory.

The CEO & Co-Founder, of Krave Mart, Kassim Shroff was of the opinion that investors having a long-term approach, who believe in the growth potential of a country, are ideal partners for startups. “In Pakistan, we have engaged with many investors and have noticed that those with a long-term investment horizon of ten years or more are more likely to support Pakistan as an investment destination. We believe that investors who take a long-term view will be well positioned to benefit from the country’s growth potential. No doubt that the current challenges Pakistan is going through are not the best but we are optimistic that we as a country will get out of these conditions soon,” he said.

The blackout has also sparked a re-evaluation of risk and future prospects for seed funding among investors. The investment landscape has been impacted by the connectivity breakdown, leading to a cautious approach and a reassessment of investment strategies. Investors are closely monitoring the situation, evaluating the ability of startups to sustain their operations and deliver returns on investment in the face of connectivity challenges. This shift in investor sentiments may have long-lasting implications for the startup ecosystem, influencing funding opportunities and the overall growth trajectory of early-stage ventures.

The long-term fallout of the Internet blackout on startups and seed funding is a pressing concern for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan.

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Restoring confidence in Pakistan’s digital economy

In the aftermath of the Internet blockage in Pakistan, rebuilding trust and restoring confidence in the country’s digital economy has become a pressing concern. One key aspect in this process is the recognition that the government should avoid future Internet blockages to foster a stable and conducive environment for businesses and individuals reliant on digital connectivity. Simultaneously, industry collaboration is essential in regaining the trust of international investors and IT companies, encouraging them to consider Pakistan as a favourable destination for their investments and operations. By prioritising these efforts, Pakistan aims to rebuild trust, attract investments, and rejuvenate its digital economy.

The suspension has resulted in an estimated revenue loss of Rs820 million for telecom operators, while the government has lost around Rs287 million in tax revenue. Muhammad Zohaib Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Software Houses Association ([email protected]), strongly condemned the sudden and unconsented blockage of Internet services in the country, expressing deep concern over its severe implications. As a vocal advocate for the IT industry, Khan highlighted the indispensable role of the internet as a lifeline, office, and communication infrastructure for the sector, underscoring the industry’s complete reliance on its uninterrupted availability.

In addition to the immediate disruptions caused by the internet shutdown, Khan drew attention to the pre-existing challenges faced by the IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) sector, including stagnant growth and potential declines in IT service exports due to unfavourable government policies and a lack of policy continuity. The political turmoil and subsequent Internet blackout have further exacerbated these issues, effectively bringing operations within the IT industry to a grinding halt.

Khan also raised concerns about the declining quality of Internet services, particularly data services, in the country. He emphasised that international buyers and importers would not accept excuses for delayed internet access, as timeliness is crucial for maintaining credibility and goodwill in the highly competitive IT export markets. The inability to access the Internet and fulfil client requirements could lead to the loss of valuable clients and orders, posing significant challenges for the sector’s recovery and growth.

The impassioned remarks by Khan shed light on the profound consequences of the Internet shutdown on the IT industry and its export potential. The unavailability of Internet access not only disrupts day-to-day operations but also hampers Pakistan’s ability to remain competitive in the global IT market. Khan’s plea underscores the urgent need for reliable and uninterrupted internet services to support the growth and resilience of the IT industry, which plays a pivotal role in the country’s economic development.

*Names have been changed to protect identities of sources

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