Digital Liberty

The 36-hour blockade of X, formerly known as Twitter, in Pak­istan sends a chilling message about the alarming rise of in­ternet censorship at the hands of authorities. This blatant violation of constitutional rights not only disrupts vital communi­cation channels but also deals a heavy blow to our economic eco­system. Such draconian measures must be strongly condemned, as they trample upon the fundamental principles of democracy and hinder the nation’s progress.

The blockade of X purportedly initiated in response to allegations of election fraud, and this has ignited a firestorm of criticism both domestically and internationally. Netblocks, a reputable global inter­net monitor, confirmed a “national-scale” disruption linked to these accusations, along with the disclosures by Rawalpindi commission­er Liaqat Ali Chatha. This is not merely a matter of online freedom, but the adverse economic repercussions of such heavy-handed cen­sorship must be fully understood as well. The Pakistan Institute for Development Economics estimates an eye-watering loss of Rs1.3 bil­lion due to the blockade, which is extremely disappointing.

This crippling blow to the economy jeopardises foreign investment and undermines the nation’s reputation as a conducive environment for business growth. The IT sector, a beacon of hope for economic re­vitalisation, bears the brunt of these regressive measures, further ex­acerbating the nation’s ever-present economic problems.

It is imperative that we heed the impassioned calls of digital rights activists who advocate for alternative approaches to combating mis­information and safeguarding freedom of expression. We must vehe­mently oppose such authoritarian tactics and demand accountability from those entrusted with safeguarding our rights. Instead of adopting such dictatorial measures, we need to encourage media literacy with­in the populace, and organically influence the spread of dangerous and false narratives, whilst upholding the principles of free speech.

Failure to do so risks plunging the nation into a cycle of repression and regression, stifling the voices of those who already feel voice­less and holding us back on the world stage as well. We must chart a course that champions transparency instead of keeping citizens in the dark, and collectively uphold the most fundamental freedom en­shrined within our constitution.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt