Government Restored Mobile Data Services Amidst Ongoing Political Turmoil
The unanticipated arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan unleashed violent protests across Pakistan. PTI supporters took to the roads to protest against their leader’s arrest from the Islamabad High Court premises. The government took several measures to counter the backlash. The government appointed a large number of police and rangers and directed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take down internet services.
Importance of the Internet in the Digital Age:
The internet is a basic component of the digital age. It has revolutionized many sectors such as education and health. It has also introduced us to innovative modes of earning and learning. Now people learn various skills from the comfort of their homes and sell them at good rates. It brings us to the conclusion that the economy can not grow without a good internet connection. It is also evident from the stats that the suspension of internet services resulted in a huge loss of 2.46 billion. It also resulted in Rs. 861 million reduction in government tax revenue.
The decision by the government to suspend internet services caused a global outcry. Head of Asia Pacific Julian Gorman wrote to IT Minister that he is concerned about its implications on the business. Business activities greatly depend on internet connectivity, and restrictions in this regard will harm the economy to a huge extent.
Ban on Social Media Platforms
The government also banned social media platforms, i.e., YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. They were mainly banned for interrupting the communication between the PTI supporters. Everyone has the right to information that the government has negated by banning social media platforms. Furthermore, these platforms are not only used to communicate but also for business activities by a large number of freelancers.
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Daily Wagers Suffered
The business of daily wagers and low-rank employees also suffered due to political unrest and the suspension of internet services. Labors could not find work due to angry mobs protesting on the roads. The food delivery and transport-related services such as food panda and inDrive apps also remain suspended due to internet connectivity issues.
Effect on Freelance Community
Pakistan has 4th largest freelancer community. With the shrinking prospects for government and private sector jobs, citizens have started to invest in learning digital skills. Freelancers learn the skills and sell them in the international market. International clients prefer Pakistani freelancers due to their hard work and competitive charges. The charges are minimum due to the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar. During the internet suspension, the freelancing community suffered greatly, and many of them lost clients due to timely delivery issues.
Reservations of Industry Experts
Industry experts have also made many reservations. Considering the gravity of the matter, according to them, the matter should not have been dealt with single-handedly. The Ministry of Interior directing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take down the internet violates the law. The cabinet is entitled to make such decisions after careful consideration and consulting with other members.
The government restored internet services after the national and international outcry. The government had suspended them on the pretext of maintaining rule and law and preventing violent protests. However, the internet was also taken down in relatively peaceful areas of Sindh and Baluchistan. It is argued that the internet was taken down on the government’s instructions to evade anti-government hashtags on social media platforms, especially Twitter.
People took a sigh of relief after the restoration of the internet connection. The daily business came back to normalcy after the restoration. However, the damage experienced by our already drowning economy could not be reversed. Government should make such decisions through proper channels and mechanisms if confronted with such a situation.