The Devastating State of Pakistan Due to Complete Internet Blackout; Millions of Citizens Fall Victim of Social Media Shutdown

Pakistan’s decision to shut down the internet and social media platforms caused chaos and destruction for the citizens and left millions handicapped. After Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday, the government of Pakistan shut down mobile data and big social media apps including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. According to the data collected by ProPakistani, telecom operators have faced a 1.64 billion PKR revenue loss whereas the government has suffered a loss of almost 573 million PKR in tax revenue.

Ever since the censorship of mobile internet, everything has come to a halt. Cab services such as InDrive, Uber, Careem, and Bykea, delivery services such as Foodpanda, restaurants, freelance and remote employees and employers, and online education for students have suffered the most. With a huge devastating impact on 160,000 ride drivers and riders, more than 12,000 home chefs and restaurants including those on the ride-hailing platforms, and roughly 500,000 digital freelancers trying to make a living for themselves.

Furthermore, 90,000 POS vendors, 6,000 e-commerce stores, and 42,483,573 mobile wallets are also a victim of this foced shutdown. This has caused millions to lose their daily income who heavily rely on these apps and resources to survive each day, losing these resources indefinitely is too much for these millions to recover from. Not just that, they might not find any other options to make do in this situation.

Most of the major roads in cities are blocked and access to hospitals is restricted as well causing devastation across the nation. The arrest of this political leader sparked protests nation-wide almost immediately. The videos of the protests and the arrest have gone viral. The shutdown was implemented to quill the resistance of the citizens and has been so far the worst shutdown that the nation experienced. Immobile patients’ access to healthcare and freelancers' access to the market and resources has caused the whole nation to sit down empty-handed.

Moreover, online learning has become a routine practice since COVID-19. The shutdown handicapped thousands of higher and secondary educational institutes which were conducting online sessions for the students. Social media block has cut off a means of connection between millions of people as well as countless businesses online. Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok offered incredible earning opportunities for the nation which have now been made unavailable as much due to the new internet restrictions, affecting millions of Pakistani content creators who used these platforms for a main income for themselves and their families as well.

As the protests have gone on the past few days, the lack of connectivity gave the protesters no hurdles or issues at all. The real victims of this data connectivity shut down for an indefinite period are the workers, students, freelancers, riders, drivers, etc. In this digital age, the nation heavily relies on the availability of these apps and connectivity to earn a living, support dreams, to be able to find opportunities, and build connections. The shutdown has only sparked more uncertainty, discomfort, devastation, and confusion for the citizens of Pakistan. Although, PTA claimed it'll soon restore the internet services but it failed to delineate what it achieved by blocking the internet in the country.

Not knowing when internet services will be restored and restrictions on social media sites will be lifted has happened for the first time for most of this generation. Now, there is a higher need for these resources than ever before causing extreme damage to the lower class of this country. They took the initiative and built an income source for themselves to feed their families and children, support their education, and everything in between. Currently, no one is aware of the future of this shutdown and the restoration of their valuable resources. With the economy down the drain already, it is quite unsettling to experience such restrictions and witness the economy deteriorate further right in front of our eyes.

This is not merely devasting and unfortunate, it is a direct violation of the human rights of Pakistanis. This shutdown has proved to be an unnecessary, inappropriate, and damaging response to the political issues at hand. This has not only caused great economic losses but also the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens who rely on online connectivity to function. The government must take notice and lift the restrictions everywhere immediately to alleviate the suffering of Pakistan’s citizens and prevent any further economic losses.

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