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X banned over failure to adhere to Pakistan’s ‘lawful directives’,

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The Interior Ministry on Wednesday told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the ban on X, formerly Twitter, was necessary following the platform’s failure to adhere to the lawful directives of the government of Pakistan, ARY News reported.  

Interior Secretary Khurram Agha, on behalf of the ministry, submitted a report on Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) orders on petition challenging the ban on the social media platform.

The hearing came as Pakistan marked two months of the disruption in the services of social networking site X.

IHC Chief Justice presided over the hearing while Advocate Amna Ali appeared as the petitioner’s counsel.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Duggal informed the court that the interior ministry had filed a report on the matter.

In the report, the interior ministry maintained that the “failure of Twitter/X to adhere to the lawful directives of the government of Pakistan and address concerns regarding the misuse of its platform necessitated the imposition of a ban”.

It also requested the court to dismiss the petition stating that ‘no right of the petitioner has been deprived’.

The report underscored instances of non-cooperation from ‘X’ officials, citing their disregard for requests from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Wing. The FIA Cybercrime Wing had requested X to ban accounts that were propagating against the chief justice, it stated.

Detailing the platform’s shutdown, the report stated that at the request of intelligence agencies, the Ministry of Interior issued orders for the closure of X on February 17, 2024, aimed at safeguarding the national security and law and order situation.

“The decision to ban Twitter/X in Pakistan was made in the interest of upholding national security, maintaining public order, and preserving the integrity of our nation,” said the report.

“Social media platforms are being used indiscriminately to spread extremist ideas and false information. X is being used as a tool by some nefarious elements to undermine law and order and promote instability,” it added.

The report further emphasised that ‘X, is not registered in Pakistan nor has it adhered to the nation’s legal framework, failing to establish a legal presence or engage in meaningful cooperation with Pakistani authorities.

The ministry stated in the report that the closure of X is not against Article 19 of the Constitution and is in response to the rising security concerns that led to the ban on many social media platforms, even around the world.

The report also added that X’s closure is not intended to curtail freedom of expression or access to information, but is aimed at the responsible use of social media platforms in accordance with the law.

The ministry’s report highlighted that social media platform TikTok was also banned by the government earlier, adding that the ban was lifted after TikTok signed an agreement to abide by Pakistani law.

Meanwhile, the court expressed dissatisfaction over the report and observed that the government had closed down X based on a speculative report. It emphasised that authorities must present solid evidence, even if the content on X is indeed a security risk to the state.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till May 2.

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