Internet Censorship in Pakistan. What and Why Is Blocked?

Countries Mar 18, 2021

In 1947, British India, the former pearl of the colonial British Empire, split into India and Pakistan. Since gaining sovereignty, countries have vied for dominance in the region from 1947 to 1999. There have been four major border conflicts. The disputed territories in the north of the two countries and nuclear weapons, which both India and Pakistan possess, do not add stability. In terms of the structure of the economy and the distribution of employment in industries, Pakistan is similar to India.

Pakistan's population is also multicultural, although not to the same extent as India's. The country uses two official languages Urdu and English, but the bulk of the population considers other languages to be their native languages.

National top-level domain .pk. For the first time, commercial Internet access began to be provided in Pakistan in 1994. By 2000, the country had only 140,000 users. We must pay tribute to the authorities: they undertook to develop the IT sector in the new millennium. In 2001, the first DSL service appeared, and by 2006, 12 million people were using the Internet in Pakistan. Nevertheless, to date, progress on the Internet is little: Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim country (193 million people, sixth in the world), but the number of users is estimated at only 34 million (about 18% of the population). At the same time, about 135 million people are provided with cellular communications.

Today broadband access is available in the main cities of the country, as well as wireless Internet. The speed varies in an extensive range from 1 to 100 Mbps. According to the data for the last year, the average speed in the country is 2.5 Mbps. Dynamics of changes in the average rate of access to the network in India and Pakistan:

As you can see, Pakistan has been lagging for several years. Moreover, only about 5% of Pakistani users have access to broadband Internet at 4 Mbps; 0.1% have access to 15 Mbps. The cost of 4 Mbps unlimited broadband is 17 per month, 2 Mbps is 15 — Mobile internet with 10 GB of traffic 17.15 per month.

Here are some apps and services blocked in Pakistan:

  • Video Hosting
  • YouTube
  • Social networking
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Image sharing

  • DeviantArt
  • Imgur
  • Ibb/Imgbb
  • News and information
  • WordPress
  • Rabwah Times
  • Reddit
  • Wikipedia
  • ShiaChat
  • Quora

Online dating

  • Tinder
  • Grindr

Censorship in Pakistan
In Pakistan, Internet censorship is more pronounced than in India, although it has not yet become systematic. Blocking of content and specific sites usually happens without explanation. Ethno-separatist materials, pornography, pirated torrents are filtered. In 2008, it was temporarily blocked by YouTube for "videos in which they criticize Islam." In 2010, Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook were blocked for posting content that, according to authorities, offended believers' feelings. For the same reasons, YouTube was again blocked in 2012. Access to it was opened only in September 2016 after a local version of the video hosting was explicitly launched for Pakistan, which filtered out objectionable materials. Also, in 2013, it was reported that Netsweeper Internet filtering software was used at the national level in Pakistan.