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April 17, 2021

Sh Rashid apologises for temporarily suspending WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram

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April 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid on Friday apologised for the government's move to shut down social media services temporarily across the country, saying it was done keeping in mind the masses' best interest.

The interior minister said WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook were suspended across the country as the government feared the members of a proscribed organisation would call for protests after Friday prayers.

Rashid said the government had defeated those spreading terrorism and inciting violence in the country, adding that the government would try to ensure people were not caused any further inconveniences related to social media.

"The ones who stopped oxygen [vans] and ambulances [from reaching hospitals during protests] were defeated today. We have banned them [the proscribed organisation] and we will move for their dissolution as well," he said.

The government will block their passports, identity cards, and bank accounts too, the interior minister added. Services of social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Telegram were restored in the country earlier in the day after being suspended for four hours.

Earlier today, the interior ministry had directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block social media platforms from 11am till 3pm. The suspension came amid protests by a religious party in the country which led to chaos and the killing of three people, including two policemen.

The protests, organised in different cities, also caused massive traffic jams and distress to the citizens The request by the interior ministry to suspend the social media platforms was made in a letter sent to the PTA chairman. The ministry, in the letter, had requested the PTA to take action on the issue "immediately".

"In order to maintain public order and safety, access to certain social media applications has been restricted temporarily," PTA had said in its explanation regarding the suspension of services.