After a three-day suspension, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday confirmed that it had started restoring internet services across the country, reported Dawn.
The PTA said in its statement that access to social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was also being restored in the country.
The telecom regulator suspended mobile broadband services across the country on May 9 on the interior ministry’s directives.
Enraged PTI supporters resorted to violence attacking military and government buildings in Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar.
The step was taken by the authorities to control the spread of chaos, while access to major social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube was also blocked since then.
As a result of the suspension of data service, businesses suffered significant losses, reflected by a 50 per cent slump in the point-of-sale transactions routed through the country’s main digital payment systems a day after Imran’s arrest, reported Dawn.
And despite calls for the restoration of the data service from within and outside the country, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said earlier today that it would remain suspended until people involved in violence and damaging properties during recent protests were caught.
A PTA spokesperson confirmed to Geo News today that internet services were being restored after directives to this end were received from the interior ministry.
The internet suspension has resulted in an approximate revenue loss of Rs 820 million for telecom operators, reports have suggested, a huge dent to the sector, as the economy remains in a fragile state.
Earlier, more than 100 members of the business community and civil society released a joint statement, saying, “We … are deeply troubled by and condemn the recently reported and ongoing use of partial and complete internet shutdowns, as well as targeted content and app blocking, following the nationwide protests.”
The affected people, they said, also included the hundreds and thousands of freelancers and digital creators, reported Dawn.
“We emphatically call on the government of Pakistan to immediately lift restrictions intended to disrupt or prevent the citizens from accessing and disseminating information online and from communicating safely and securely. We also urge the government to recognise internet access as a basic fundamental right which can’t be taken away arbitrarily,” they said.
Earlier today, Amnesty International urged Pakistan authorities to lift restrictions on the internet services.
Rimmel Mohydin, the South Asian campaigner at Amnesty International, said, “There is an urgent need to de-escalate the situation in Pakistan as it threatens further severe violations of rights of the people and risks more fatalities.”
The decision to restore the internet comes a day after the Supreme Court declared Khan’s arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) “illegal” and directed the authorities to release him “immediately”.
The top court also asked the PTI chief to approach the IHC for bail. Subsequently, Khan appeared in front of the high court today, which granted him two weeks’ protective bail in the Al-Qadir Trust case — in which the PTI chief was arrested — and barred authorities from arresting him in any other case till May 15.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)