Twitter will no longer unilaterally suspend or terminate the verified accounts of Pakistani users according to the verbal agreement reached between the authorities in Pakistan and the micro-blogging site Twitter.
The official statement from the Government of Pakistan asserted that Twitter will contact the Pakistani government in case of any complaint, before taking any action.
The Chairperson of National IT Board Shabahat Ali Shah met with the Twitter officials, a meeting attended by members of Pakistani consulate as well, and discussed the issue of suspension of verified Pakistani Twitter accounts in the aftermath of India’s scraping off Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status on August 5th.
After 2 months effort, Twitter agrees on a new cadence. They will not suspend govt verified accounts without prior intimation and consultation with PK government.@NationalITBoard @ImranKhanPTI @pid_gov@arslankhalid_m pic.twitter.com/vG9C5sBi7k
— Shabahat Ali Shah (@ShabahatAShah) October 9, 2019
Nearly 300 Pakistani Twitter accounts were reported to be suspended for supporting Kashmir issue, including those of journalists, government official accounts, and news channels for highlighting India’s brutalities in Kashmir valley. The affected Twitter users complained of diminished Twitter outreach and losing a large chunk of followers after the restoration of Twitter accounts.
Pakistani authorities protested suppressing the voices of Pakistani Twitter users for speaking on the Kashmir issue. The Chairperson NITB asserted that he told the meeting participants that Pakistan is a responsible country and Twitter should reach out to the government first if they found any content violating the rules of the micro-blogging site.
“Twitter will now monitor our accounts closely and we will give them details of some accounts too,” he remarked. Twitter will contact the government first, and then the Government of Pakistan will raise the said issue with the concerned Twitter user.
We want to solve problems through discussion first. “This is the era of freedom of speech and Kashmir is just one issue. Accounts shouldn’t be closed like this,” he added.
After multiple complaints, massive unrest and anger from long-time Pakistani Twitter users whose accounts were suspended or shut down with no prior notice. Twitter has announced that they will no longer unilaterally suspend or terminate user accounts from Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/QCrhj4n1Nw
— 🇵🇰 🇹🇷🇹علی خان پی ٹی ائی🇵🇰🇹🇷 (@alikhan221022) October 9, 2019
Shabahat Ali Shah in a meeting with Twitter officials asserted that the suspension of Twitter accounts without prior warning or notice mounted anger, resentment, and massive unrest among Twitter users. He urged Twitter to amend their policies in this regard.
The NITB Chairperson asserted that “We lobbied through technology experts in the United States and explained to Twitter that Pakistanis are upset over the suspension of their accounts without any prior intimation or warning and that they shouldn’t do it,”
Indian lobbying Against Pakistan
He informed the Twitter officials that no action has been taken against Indian bullying on Twitter, which increased following India’s illegal annexation of Kashmir.
Adding that a ‘cadence’ was developed following a conference call with the company’s policy officials in Dubai, UAE. Since Twitter does not have an office in Pakistan, hence a verbal agreement has been reached instead of a formal agreement. He suspected that Indian lobbying has played a prime role in the blocking of Pakistani accounts extensively raising the Kashmir issue.
“Since Indian lobbying is very strong there, we suspect that many of our accounts were suspended on the whims of the Indian lobby,” he added. “Now we have told them not to suspend these accounts without keeping us in the loop.”
Letter to Twitter
The verified accounts, he explained, will either be government’s and government-related or those of NGOs and media personnel, etc.
Following the reports of suspension Pakistani Twitter handles, Shah had written the letter to Twitter asking them to bring any ‘belligerent content‘ to the government notice.
“We have serious concerns that suspending Twitter accounts of the government may result in an uncontrollable outburst of public on the streets that would have an imminent threat to human lives,” Shah said in the letter.
Shah added that he twice tried to contact the Twitter officials in the last two months but faced difficulty because the company isn’t registered in Pakistan.
— Qasim (@qasim_uk) October 9, 2019
— Mohtram shah 🇵🇰 (@Syed_Pukhtoon) October 9, 2019
Agreement took place in between Twitter and Pakistani Govt. Now they can not block or suspend our accounts. In case of any kind of violations Twitter will be contacting Govt. Of Pakistan before suspending anyone account.#KashmirAwaitsUN#کرپشن_نہیں_کشمیر_بچاؤ
— Waqas Cheema (@MWaqas_Cheema) October 9, 2019