PTA seeks meeting with Twitter over muzzled Kashmir voices

Published: September 4, 2019
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PTA says 67 of 333 suspended Pakistani handles have so far been restored. PHOTO: REUTERS

PTA says 67 of 333 suspended Pakistani handles have so far been restored. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has requested Twitter’s administration for a meeting to discuss the suspension of Pakistani handles tweeting in support of Kashmir since August 5, the day New Delhi stripped the occupied valley of its semi-autonomous status.

“The PTA is already putting in efforts to engage Twitter to ensure freedom of expression for social media users in Pakistan,” it said in a statement released on Wednesday. “In this context PTA has invited Twitter’s administration for a meeting in Pakistan or elsewhere to have meaningful discussions and devise a workable arrangement.”

The telecommunication authority said it had reported to Twitter administration a total of 333 handles suspended for posting tweets about Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). However, it added, only 67 accounts (20%) had so far been restored by the social media site.

It urged the micro-blogging website “to discontinue their biased approach towards Pakistani users who are advocating rights of the oppressed people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.

PTA’s Director PR Khurram Ali Mehran confirmed that the authority was in communication with Twitter’s regional office in Dubai through email and other channels.

“Sixty-seven accounts have been restored. This means they’re taking action on their end but we want an explanation in writing,” he told The Express Tribune.

The director PR said that under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016, PTA was the sole body mandated to take up such matters with the relevant platforms internationally.

“We have asked for a meeting in Pakistan or any other place of convenience to discuss and resolve this issue,” Mehran shared, adding that Pakistan could escalate the issue if need be.

Twitter, however, has neither responded officially nor has it given any reason for the suspension of these accounts.

It has denied partiality, saying it enforces its policies judiciously for all users — regardless of their political beliefs and background.

“We are founded on the principles of free expression and believe people on all sides of an issue have a fundamental right to discuss them within the boundaries of our policies, which prohibit terrorism, hateful conduct, platform manipulation, and abuse,” a spokesperson for the company had told this publication last month.

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