SOCIAL MEDIA BLACKOUT FOR MUHARRAM: PM TO TAKE ‘FINAL DECISION’

The Ministry of Interior has deferred a decision on the Punjab government’s request to suspend six social media platforms during Muharram for about a week.

A statement issued by the interior ministry on Friday said no decision had yet been made on the provincial governments’ requests for an internet shutdown, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make the final decision in this regard.
The statement clarified that the provinces’ requests had “neither been rejected nor accepted.”
The statement did not specify which provinces other than Punjab had made such requests but indicated that Punjab was not the only one.
An official had earlier told a private news outlet that instead of blocking access to social media platforms, foolproof security arrangements would be made. However, he hinted that cellular services would be suspended in some cities for a few hours on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.
The Punjab government had asked the federal government to suspend access to social media from the 6th to the 11th of Muharram to control the spread of misinformation and hate material and to prevent sectarian violence.
The provincial government had based its request on intelligence reports suggesting that attempts could be made to disrupt peace in some areas.

The provincial home department had written a letter to the interior ministry after a meeting, recommending the suspension of “social media applications Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, X, TikTok, etc. across the province from Muharram 6 to 11 to control hate material, misinformation and to avoid sectarian violence.”
Sources said the Punjab government had initially planned social media suspension for two days, but it opted for more stringent measures based on intelligence reports.

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