The Sindh government has decided to ban instant messaging and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications such as Skype, Whatsapp, Tango and Viber for three months.
The decision was taken after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah to review the law and order situation.
Following the meeting, Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced that a ban would be imposed on the use of Skype, Whatspp, Tango and Viber. “Terrorists and criminal elements are using these networks to communicate after the targeted operation was launched.” Memon added that the Home Secretary would contact PTA to have these networks banned in the province.
According to the provincial information minister, the Sindh government would also contact the federal government to ensure that illegal SIMs would be shut.
Memon added that the brandishing of weapons had also been banned and an operation would be conducted against individuals in possession of illegal weapons.
Pakistan is known for a long-standing ban on YouTube and occasional blocks of sites like Facebook and Twitter. Today, the government in one large part of the country said that it was planning to block two more social media services — Skype and Viber.
According to a report in the Express Tribune, the government of the Sindh province — home to over 35 million people, including those living in its capital, Karachi — is planning a three-month block of the two messaging platforms because they are being used by terrorists who want to avoid conversations getting monitored on regular mobile networks. To that end, the government apparently also is requesting further access to data being passed through networks like Viber and Skype.
The newspaper reports that for right now it’s just these two services that will be affected, although the ban could possibly also be extended to Tango and WhastApp, the newspaper notes. It does not say when the ban will begin.