The ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan has resulted in internet services being down for several days, leading to severe repercussions for people’s lives and businesses. The suspension of mobile broadband services across the country on Tuesday night has resulted in a revenue loss of Rs820 million for telecom operators, and the information technology (IT) sector is expected to suffer losses worth $3-$4 million every day. The country’s main digital payment systems have also been affected, with point-of-sale transactions dropping by around 50%.
The internet services were shut down on the orders of the interior ministry, following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on May 9. However, after the Supreme Court declared his arrest illegal and asked him to approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for further directions, hopes arose that the internet services might resume soon. Unfortunately, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Director Public Relations Malhat Ubaid stated that no new instructions have been received from the Ministry of Interior yet, signaling that the connections might not be restored anytime soon.
In addition to the suspension of internet services, the government has also blocked major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. YouTube services are slower to control the spread of disinformation and panic among the masses due to the spread of “unwanted information”. This has caused frustration among the general public, who rely heavily on social media for communication and access to information.
According to Reuters, data shared by 1LINK on POS through its platform showed that international payment card transactions were down by 45% in volume on May 10. The daily value of transactions using international payment cards was also down 46% on the same day. Cash transactions remain dominant in the country’s commercial dealing, but digital payments have witnessed fast-paced growth in recent times.
The ongoing internet suspension and blockage of social media platforms have caused severe economic and social damage to Pakistan. The country’s IT sector, which was already facing challenges, has been further impacted, and people are struggling to carry out their daily business activities. The government needs to resolve the political turmoil and restore internet services as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the country’s fragile economy.