Islamabad: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on Friday suspended social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram till 3 pm, amidst tension in Pakistan over violent anti-France protests that paralysed large parts of the South Asian country this week.
As per the Interior Ministry, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority did so on its instructions.
In the letter, the ministry requested the PTA to ‘completely block’ Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram from 11 am to 3 pm.
“I am directed to refer to the subject cited above and to state that complete access to social media platforms may be blocked from 11 am to 3 pm on April 16 2021, across the country,” Abdul Razaq the Section officer of the ministry, mentioned in the letter.
“It is requested that immediate action may be taken on the subject matter under the information to this ministry,” he added.
While speaking on the condition of anonymity, a PTA official told to repoters “In order to maintain public order and safety, access to certain social media applications has been restricted temporarily.”
The order by Pakistan’s government came a day after French nationals and companies in Pakistan were advised by their embassy to temporarily leave the country in the wake of the rallies led by an extremist party.
Various media reports suggest that social media sites were shut down as law enforcement agencies suspect that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan rioters are likely to hit the streets after Friday prayers. This may be noted that political parties usually use social media platforms to gather supporters.
At least three people — including two policemen — have been killed in the protests, according to Geo News.
On Tuesday, thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters thronged the streets after their leader was taken into custody following his calls for the expulsion of the French ambassador.
Anti-French sentiment has been brewing in Pakistan since President Emmanuel Macron backed a satirical magazine’s right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed.
Meanwhile, security outside the French embassy has been intensified.