A monthly report on trends relating to digital rights, policies, practices & media

Tracking: Internet and digital policies and regulations

Digitalization in governance and socio-economic domains

Digital rights violations and protections

Digital rights advocacy and defense

Digital media and online free speech

Vol. 2, No. 6 June 2021 Edition

Produced by Freedom Network –

SECTION 1: Internet and digital policies and regulations

  • Federal and provincial governments (ministries and departments)
  • Internet regulators
  • Media regulators
  • Telecom regulators
  • Internet access / connectivity

Mobile phone internet services restored in areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Date: June 3, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) allowed the mobile phone operators to restore internet services in several areas of Balochistan and Khyber district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa owing to improvement in the security situation.

Competition Commission terms internet connectivity as essential facility

Date: June 15, 2021 – Source: The News

The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) underlined that cable, internet and telephone services are essential facilities and the lack of space should not be used as an excuse to give preferential treatment to a specific internet service provider.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa takes lead with Pakistan’s first 5G connectivity trial

Date: June 18, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune

Pakistan’s first successful 5G connectivity trial was held in Peshawar in a limited environment on a non-commercial basis as part of a collaboration between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board (KPITB) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

Federal government renews mobile operators’ licenses for Rs3.1 billion

Date: June 25, 2021 – Source: The News

The federal government received Rs3.1 billion on account of license renewal fees from three mobile operators for operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

SECTION 2: Digital rights advocacy and defense

  • Pakistan-based citizens and civil society organizations
  • Independent international digital rights organizations
  • UN and global multilateral organizations
  • Governmental and other sources

Why 5G is still out of Pakistan’s grasp

Date: June 6, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Several reasons such as lack of capable mobile phone devices, illegal signal boosters, debilitated telecommunications infrastructure and old frequency brands restrict Pakistan’s ability to transition from 4G to 5G at a sustainable rate in sync with the increase in mobile internet users in the country.

SECTION 3: Digital rights violations and protections

  • Citizens and netizens – including case studies
  • Media, journalists and other information practitioners
  • Online free speech
  • Online access to information
  • Privacy violations
  • Data protection
  • Surveillance
  • Misinformation / disinformation / fake news
  • Cybercrime

Prime Minister urges world leaders to act against online hate speech

Date: June 13, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Business Recorder

Prime Minister Imran Khan called upon world leaders to crackdown on online hate speech and online radicalization.

Fact-checking editorial practices and propaganda

Date: June 13, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The semantics of political discourse on social media platforms in Pakistan have taken a turn for the worse. Given that fact-checking is based on accountability at the core, the government or its sympathizers cannot be their own judge.

Pakistani TikTok user arrested for duping Turkish actor

Date: June 18, 2021 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Gulf Today

A police case was registered against Pakistani TikTok user Kashif Zameer for monetary fraud and breach of contract on the complaint of Turkish actor Engin Altan.

Curbing fake news in Pakistan

Date: June 25, 2021 – Source: The News

It is important to allocate sufficient funds to impart news literacy among information consumers as such awareness will enable internet users to differentiate between real and fake news.

Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Cell runs out of disc space for complaints

Date: June 26, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The Cyber Crime Cell’s (CCC) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) ran out of storage space as hundreds of complaints were registered on its platform.

Uploading of blasphemous content on social media declines in Pakistan

Date: June 26, 2021 – Source: Dawn

A report prepared by the Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) revealed a decline in uploading of content related to blasphemy and hate speech on social networking platforms in Pakistan.

Sindh High Court orders banning TikTok in Pakistan

Date: June 29, 2021 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered to ban the video-sharing application TikTok across Pakistan nearly three months after the country had lifted a ban imposed on the social media platform.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

  • Digitalization in governance sectors / e-governance
  • Digitalization in social and development sectors
  • Digitalization in business and commercial sectors

Pakistani startups win $668,000 GSMA grant

Date: June 3, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion announced three Pakistani startups as winners out of the 597 applications received from 44 countries. The winning startups will receive a total grant of $668,000.

Information Technology Park to be set up at Karachi airport

Date: June 5, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The federal government decided to set up an information technology (IT) park at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi at a cost of Rs31 billion.

Tariq Malik selected to head premier database authority in Pakistan

Date: June 9, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The federal cabinet approved Tariq Malik, who is currently serving at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), for his appointment as National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chairman.

Federal government pins high hopes on Pakistan’s information technology sector

Date: June 11, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin said that Pakistan’s information technology (IT) sector has the potential to increase its exports as the industry grew significantly by 40% during fiscal year 2020-2021.

Decoding digitization in Pakistan

Date: June 12, 2021 – Source: Dawn

There is a need in Pakistan to set a clear vision for the country’s digitization journey, break it down into bite-sized goals, assign clear owners to those goals, give them the authority and space to execute those goals and then performance-manage them based on outcomes.

Government claims no new tax on data usage in Pakistan added in federal budget for 2021-22

Date: June 12, 2021 – Source: Dawn

After strong criticism of the government on social media for making internet usage, call and text message services costlier, Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar denied that additional duties have been imposed on telecommunication and data usage.

Federal Bureau of Revenue proposes raising taxes on import of mobile phones in Pakistan

Date: June 12, 2021 – Source: The News

The Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) proposed raising Regulatory Duty (RD) on import of mobile phone sets to collect Rs16 billion during fiscal year 2020-2021.

Telecommunication sector given industry status in Pakistan

Date: June 12, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The government gave the status of an industry to the telecommunications sector in Pakistan in the federal budget for fiscal year 2020-2021.

Government drops Rs100 billion taxes on mobile call, internet services in Pakistan

Date: June 13, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin announced dropping taxes worth Rs100 billion proposed on cellular calls and internet services in Pakistan.

Rawalpindi police to share crime diary on social media

Date: June 13, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Rawalpindi police started sharing daily crime diary on its social media accounts and will be updated after every 24 hours.

State Bank of Pakistan moves to help improve sales via digital marketplaces

Date: June 15, 2021 – Source: Dawn

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced key changes to its foreign exchange regulations to facilitate exporters to sell their products through international digital marketplaces.

Mobile handsets worth $1.8 billion imported into Pakistan

Date: June 20, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that mobile handsets worth $1.8 billion were imported into Pakistan during fiscal year 2021 (FY21).

Online market places in Pakistan decry 17 percent tax on financial transactions

Date: June 20, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Online Marketplaces (OMs) operating in Pakistan reacted strongly against the changes proposed in the Sales Tax Act 1990, as they fear that the bulk of businesses would shift away from online sales platforms and give rise to unregistered sellers.

Technology experts seek end to tax on online marketplaces in Pakistan

Date: June 20, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

Technology experts urged the government to withdraw the proposed general sales tax (GST) on e-commerce marketplaces in Pakistan.

Digital summons for investigation help limit police harassment in Rawalpindi

Date: June 25, 2021 – Source: Express Tribune

The virtual summoning of citizens for investigations and inquiries resulted in a drop with regard to harassment of citizens at police stations across Rawalpindi district.

Islamabad Police holds open court via Facebook Live

Date: June 26, 2021 – Source: The News

Islamabad Police organized an open court using Facebook Live to give residents of the federal capital direct access to the police high ups.

Facebook introduces its SheMeansBusiness initiative in Pakistan

Date: June 26, 2021 – Source: Dawn

Facebook announced the expansion of its women-empowerment focused initiative ‘SheMeansBusiness’ to bolster financial inclusion and resilience women-led business in Pakistan.


OBJECTIVES: This series of monthly report aims to:

  • Track developments revolving around the framework of digitalization in Pakistan including policy and advocacy on digital rights, policy enforcements and digital rights violations, covering viewpoints of government, civil society, human rights community including digital rights campaigners, media, citizen journalists and other information practitioners, and regulators of electronic media, internet and telecom sectors, and netizens.
  • Monitor the interface between digital rights and Pakistan’s overall legal framework and how developments around them impact freedom of expression and access to information online as well as diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s digital landscape, cyberspace and internet domains.
  • Follow developments around the themes of digital rights, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, surveillance, data protection, access to internet services, telecom policies, etc.

INFORMATION SOURCES: This report monitors, among others, the following sources of information:

  • Government: Federal and provincial cabinets
  • Ministries: Related ministries, including Information and Broadcasting, Information Technology (IT) and Telecom, Human Rights, Science and Technology, Commerce and Industry, etc.
  • Legislatures: Senate, National Assembly, provincial assemblies, relevant standing committees
  • Regulators: Pakistan telecommunications Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Press Council of Pakistan (PPC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), etc.
  • Global organizations: UN/Unesco, International Media Support (IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), etc.
  • National organizations: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), BoloBhi, Media Matters for Democracy (MMFD), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), etc.
  • Media: Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, The Nation, Pakistan Today, The Friday Times, etc.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Local networks: Journalists Safety Hubs Network, Alliance on Diversity & Pluralism in Media, etc.
  • Research groups: Gallup Pakistan, IPSOS Pakistan, etc.

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