Social media users in Pakistan hit as regulators block X

Pakistan’s media regulators have blocked social media platform X, formerly Twitter, with users across the country on Thursday enduring the sixth day of disruption.

There was no comment on the outage by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Government officials have not responded to repeated queries from the Associated Press for comment.

Human rights activists have demanded a full restoration of internet services and access to social media. The US has also urged Pakistan to lift restrictions on X.

The outage was first observed over the weekend when the political party of Pakistan’s imprisoned former prime minister Imran Khan announced protests against what it says were rigged February 8 parliamentary elections.

In the vote, candidates backed by Khan, who was barred from running, won most seats but were short of a simply majority needed to form a government.

Social media platforms are often used by protest organisers to call followers out to the streets and spread the word about planned demonstrations.

Pakistan has witnessed an increase in political instability since the balloting. The country’s elections oversight body denies charges by Khan’s party that the vote was stolen.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (TPI) said on Thursday the restrictions on X have been placed by the authorities to suppress its voice on social media.

Khan’s rivals, including the former premier Shehbaz Sharif, are trying to form a coalition government.

Mr Sharif replaced Khan after his exit in a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022.

Khan has since then been convicted offences in what his supporters call politically-motivated moves to keep him out of office.

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