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Pakistan Plans Total Ban On Social Media For Muharram, PM Shehbaz Sharif’s Nod Awaited

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Pakistan Plans Total Ban On Social Media For Muharram, PM's Nod Awaited

Pak Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would decide the fate of social media platforms in Pakistan

Islamabad:

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would decide the fate of social media platforms such as YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok during the Muharram festival as the Punjab government sought a ban on them, citing the need to control “hate material”.

Shia Muslims hold large gatherings during the festival to observe the martyrdom of the grandson of the prophet of Islam.

The Muslims generally observe his martyrdom as a symbol of resistance to tyranny, and the Shia Muslims take out rallies during the first ten days of Muharram which culminate into huge processions on the 9th and 10th of the month.

The Sunni Muslims have a historic theological rivalry with the Shias, and Pakistan’s extremist Sunni groups brand them as heretics and target them through bombings, with Pakistan witnessing numerous such attacks in the past.

To disrupt communication among the militants, governments in Pakistan traditionally undertake elaborate security measures during Muharram, including suspension of internet, cell phone and social media services to avoid acts of terrorism.

The Punjab government had asked the federal government to suspend access to social media from July 6 to 11 to control the spread of misinformation and hate material to prevent sectarian violence.

This week, the provincial home department, through a letter to the Interior Ministry, recommended suspending “Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, X, TikTok, etc. across the province”.

The Ministry of Interior after a meeting held on Friday deferred a decision on the Punjab government’s request, according to an overnight statement.

It stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make the final decision on the matter, adding that the requests of the provinces had “neither been rejected nor accepted”.

The statement did not reveal which provinces other than Punjab had made such requests but indicated that Punjab was not the only one to have sought this.

Muharram is expected to begin on Sunday or Monday on the condition of the sighting of the moon.

Separately, a body of clerics tasked to sight the moon is meeting this evening to decide the beginning of Muharram.
 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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