Pakistan government defends X ban in court, cites compliance with laws

Pakistan authorities on Monday informed a high court that banning social media platform X is not against the law

Published - July 09, 2024 08:57 am IST - ISLAMABAD

Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan is about freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press [File]

Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan is about freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press [File] | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Pakistan authorities on Monday informed a high court that banning the social media platform X is not against the laws of the country.

The Sindh High Court (SHC) was hearing a case against the ban on the social media platform X, which was blocked on February 17 in the wake of rigging controversy during the Feb 8 elections.

The Ministry of Interior in its response submitted to the court stated that the ban on X was not against Article 19 of the Constitution.

"All legal requirements were fulfilled before imposing the ban on X. Article 19 allows freedom of speech, but it also entails certain legal restrictions," the ministry stated.

Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan is about freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

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It further stated that the platform has been used to upload hate speech against national institutions, prompting concerns about national security and dignity, and reports from sensitive agencies.

The ministry argued in its statement that the “petition is not admissible" as it was the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of citizens. It added that X repeatedly flouted the local laws.

"X has not signed any Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pakistan to adhere to local regulations," it stated, noting that similar bans have been imposed on other social media platforms like TikTok, which were later allowed to operate after signing MoUs and ensuring compliance with Pakistani laws.

It further said that other countries also imposed occasional restrictions on social media for national interests and urged the court to reject the petition in the interest of national security and the preservation of public order.

Though X was banned on February 17, it was not until a month later that the government officially acknowledged the ban. After its banning, a user required a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the popular platform.

Interestingly, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other top officials continue to use X for posting statements despite blocking access to it by the Pakistan government.

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