With the arrest of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan happening on May 8th, mobile internet services suddenly went down across the nation. While he was released on May 11th after the top country’s court ruled his arrest was illegal, the mobile internet remains down across the nation. Given the lack of resources to pull off such a feat across the nation, many believe Pakistan isn’t acting alone on this agenda.
Instead, many are hypothesizing that this is the handy work of President Biden and his alphabet boys. This kind of destruction of a specific portion of the telecommunications sector is not an easy feat to pull off. For many providers even in Europe and the US, when the mobile internet crashes, mobile phone calls will often go with it. Not in Pakistan.
Given how interconnected many of their networks are, and how dependent anyone looking to deliver something is on this connection, it becomes apparent that this crash of the mobile internet is not by mistake. Much of the country is not properly mapped, so GPS location services on mobile devices are the cornerstone to making a safe and accurate delivery. Especially in the major city of Karachi.
With 125 million impacted by the government’s decision to suspend mobile broadband as well as the banning of social media apps, many are suffering from massive bouts of isolation. With massive protests and infighting across the country, people like Mohammad Fayyaz from Punjab feel like they are being cut off from their own country. “We use YouTube to watch the news, but with most social media apps being restricted since Tuesday, we feel disconnected from the events taking place in Islamabad or Lahore.”
Per the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) via Al Jazeera, the interior ministry ordered the services to be suspended as protests emerged following the arrest of Khan.
However, they also said that reports of social media-based apps like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being blocked by them were false. Instead, they contest that they are simply having their bandwidth choked out, so the connection is there, just not strong. Yet, global data monitor Open Observatory has contended that the sites show as being restricted by service providers.
Traffic for VPN use has skyrocketed, and with Pakistan banning YouTube back in 2018 for their hosting of anti-Islamic films led to nationwide protests. It took three years for those restrictions to be lifted, and ever since, anytime there is a threat to riot, they tend to pull the plug on YouTube and other social media. This means the people of Pakistan are used to finding a workaround for the bans and not losing touch with their fellow countrymen.
With many of the cash-strapped people in the country finding themselves even poorer as their businesses have been effectively shuttered by these developments, this loss is especially hard. A loss that is only compounded by the unspecified delays in a $1 billion injection of cash into the economy by the International Monetary Fund. As these merchants wait for their money, the decision to destroy mobile internet has hit especially hard.
Much like when that idea was floated following January 6th, a Pakistani lawyer and digital rights activist named Nighat Dad has discovered that this decision by the Pakistani government violates their constitution. “The ban violates Article 19 A of the Constitution and [people’s] freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the Constitution,” she explained. She is encouraging the government to instead embrace a ruling “with proportionality, mention its legitimate aim and be very transparent around these shutdowns.”
These specific steps occurring only on mobile devices are the oddest part of the problem. With how horrifically Pakistan has performed on these blocks before, it’s incredibly suspicious that they are suddenly this successful in a complete mobile blackout for the internet, yet their cellular phone coverage has remained as strong as it previously did.
After Fauci destroyed testing in China, Pakistan makes a great spot for Biden’s alphabet boys to test their latest toys. With how the elections in 2024 could likely wind up, this would be the perfect tool to plunge the nation into chaos, and is likely one he wouldn’t hesitate to use.