Services of X remain disrupted in Pakistan for third consecutive day

NewsDrum Desk
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Massive protests envelop Balochistan province in Pakistan as political activists block highways in protest against alleged rigging during national elections.

Lahore: Services of social media platform X remained disrupted in Pakistan for the third consecutive day on Monday following massive rigging allegations of the elections and public admission of vote manipulation by a senior election official.


Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha, in a bombshell press conference on Saturday, alleged that he oversaw the rigging to deprive former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of 13 seats which were given to candidates who were "losing" the elections in the garrison city.

Chattha also claimed that Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja were involved in the alleged rigging and resigned from his office after "accepting responsibility" for the manipulation of poll results.

Following the allegations made by the senior officer, social media platform X, formerly Twitter, was taken by storm in Pakistan, with people calling for an election audit and returning the "stolen mandate" to 71-year-old former-cricketer-turned-politician Khan's PTI party.


The PTI claims to have won more than 180 seats in the 266-member National Assembly (NA) according to Form 45 (manual result sheet) but says the results were manipulated and most of its over 90 NA seats were gifted to the three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Buoyed by the allegations of vote rigging, the PTI on Sunday demanded a judicial probe into the manipulation of the results of the elections.

As the commissioner alleged that he was forced to change the result of 13 National Assembly seats in the Rawalpindi division, making the PTI-backed independent candidates lose to befit the PML-N, the social media was abuzz with calls for the election audit.


"The Pakistani authorities found no other way to control that criticism and chose to disrupt X in the country," an official source told Press Trust of India on Monday.

"This is the third consecutive day that people in Pakistan are facing disruptions in accessing the social media platform; even with the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN), they are facing issues," he said.

According to Downdetector, an online platform that tracks outages by collating status reports from several sources, including users, showed that the areas most affected were Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Gujranwala, among others.


On Saturday, internet monitor Netblocks reported a nationwide disruption to X amid escalating unrest and protests over allegations of election fraud after Chattha's high-level resignation and public admission of vote manipulation.

On Sunday, Netblocks said its metrics showed that X had been restricted in Pakistan for 24 hours and called it the latest and longest in a series of nation-scale internet censorship measures imposed by authorities as reports of election fraud emerge.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that shutting down the internet or any social media platforms bleeds online businesses and commerce and adds to the misery of an already fragile and struggling economy.


"It also infringes on people's right to democratic decision-making, information and expression. This practice must stop immediately," it said.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has yet to give any reason regarding disruption in X services.

Meanwhile, digital rights activist Nighad Dad said, "You cannot set down an entire platform and impose a blanket ban. This is a clear violation of fundamental rights." Pakistan authorities had also shut down internet and mobile services in the country on February 8, the election day.


To form a government, a party must win 133 out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly.

Independent candidates - a majority backed by Khan's PTI party won 93 National Assembly seats in the election.

The PML-N won 75 seats, while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has also agreed to support them with their 17 seats.