The Awami Workers Party (AWP) has approached Islamabad High Court (IHC) against Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for blocking its official website.
In a petition, the political party has requested the high court to protect the fundamental rights of freedom on the internet. It further urged the court to direct PTA to properly monitor and block online content by strictly adhering to the law.
AWP’s website, http://awamiworkersparty.org, was blocked last year on June 3 in Pakistan. The blockade occurred just a month before the general polls of 2018.
Several digital censorship experts like Digital Rights Foundation and Observatory of Online Network Interference agreed that the website was blocked because of government censorship.
Since then, the website has remained blocked despite the political party’s complaints to many forums including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and PTA, but nobody paid attention.
As a last resort, the party has decided to go to the court for redressal. In its petition, AWP has mentioned IHC’s own judgment in 2018 against the shutdown of telecom networks illegally ordered by the federal government.
In the said judgment, Justice Athar Minallah had noted that the telecom companies’ shutdown by PTA was in violation of Section 54 of the Pakistan Telecommunications (Reorganization) Act, 1996.
AWP’s petition states that blocking its online content is a similar infringement and a breach of Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (PECA) and Section 6 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act, 1996.