Pakistan

YouTube service 'disrupted' during Imran’s Peshawar address


Many users across Pakistan experienced a disruption in YouTube service on Tuesday evening during former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s address at a rally in Peshawar.

NetBlocks, an organisation that tracks internet outages, confirmed the reported outage of YouTube service and noted that the disruption came despite the fact that Islamabad High Court (IHC) had lifted the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) ban on Imran Khan’s live speeches.

“NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to limit political speech, given their disproportionate impact to fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom assembly,” the organisation said in a statement.

⚠️ Confirmed: Metrics corroborate reports of a new disruption to YouTube in #Pakistan; the incident comes as former PM Imran Khan appears on screen to live stream a speech on the platform, following a pattern observed in August #PeshawarJalsa

📰 Report: https://t.co/mFBehYjlnY pic.twitter.com/4xawM6rTRy
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) September 6, 2022

International Human Rights Foundation also took an exception of the event, saying: “The blocking of Youtube, the closure of newspapers and TV channels, the forced dismissal & exile of journalists, the arbitrary arrest of peaceful political opponents, the false indictment of innocent citizens on terrorism charges… deserve only one name: DICTATORSHIP.”

#Pakistan🇵🇰 The blocking of Youtube, the closure of newspapers and TV channels, the forced dismissal & exile of journalists, the arbitrary arrest of peaceful political opponents, the false indictment of innocent citizens on terrorism charges… deserve only one name: DICTATORSHIP. pic.twitter.com/67RBH15iYA
— International Human Rights Foundation (@Declaracion) September 6, 2022

The PTI leaders came down hard on the PDM government for the development, saying that the ban would not be able to stop the party or its chief.

The @YouTube ban in Pakistan won’t block us or @ImranKhanPTI : #EnoughlsEnough ! #PeshawarJalsa pic.twitter.com/p0oNHqP9DX
— PTI (@PTIofficial) September 6, 2022

Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan was now “officially turned into a banana republic”.

Pakistan is now officially turned into a Banana republic all channels banned to telecast @ImranKhanPTI speech and PTA has blocked @YouTube in Pakistan
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 6, 2022

“So YouTube blocked again suddenly by this fascist imported govt and its handlers. Really sick mindsets,” former human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted.

“Imran Khan’s speech will be heard one way or another you petty frightened political pygmies. Never thought state would use cyber warfare against its own people! Shameful.”

So YouTube blocked again suddenly by this fascist Imported govt and its handlers. Really sick mindsets. IK speech will be heard one way or another you petty frightened political pygmies. Never thought State would use cyber warfare against its own people! Shameful. #EnoughlsEnough
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) September 6, 2022

PTI focal person Azhar Mashwani said: “Pakistan Government has once again blocked YouTube just to stop people from watching Peshawar jalsa speech of the most popular Pakistani political leader Imran Khan”.

Pakistan Government has once again blocked @YouTube just to stop people from watching #PeshawarJalsa speech of the most popular Pakistani political leader @ImranKhanPTI.

What a shame, they will bring down whole IT sector down just to stop ppl from watching IK speech.
— Azhar Mashwani (@MashwaniAzhar) September 6, 2022

Digital rights advocate Usama Khilji tweeted “enough is enough”. He furthered that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) cannot just “block YouTube for all of Pakistan each time Imran Khan is addressing a rally… this is unconstitutional censorship which has no basis under law. Stop making a joke of the Constitution and treating the country like a video game”.

Enough is enough @PTAofficialpk you cannot block YouTube for all of Pakistan each time Imran Khan is addressing a rally. This is unconstitutional censorship which has no basis under law. Stop making a joke of the Constitution & treating the country like a video game. #YouTubeDOWN
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) September 6, 2022

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secretary general Farhatullah Babar, reacting to his tweet relayed his reservations over the move, saying: “A man may be imprisoned but not an idea”.

A man may be imprisoned but not an idea.
Gibran said that the beat of a drum may be silenced by wrapping a cloth around it, the music of guitar may be extinguished by loosening its strings but not the voice coming from deep recesses of the heart https://t.co/MdlLruLcQk
— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) September 6, 2022

A similar incident happened during the PTI chief’s speech at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on August 22.

Internet outages tracking organisation NetBlocks had confirmed the disruption. “Real-time network data show the disruption in effect on some but not all mobile and fixed-line internet providers in Pakistan during the live-streamed speech. Access was restored after the speech concluded. The study is taken from a sample size of 100 measurements from 14 vantage points across Pakistan,” it said.


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