Digital Pakistan Monitor – April 2024


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. 5, No. 4 April 2024 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

Pakistan ranks 10th globally in mobile phone usage

Date: April 19, 2024 – Source: The News

According to the State of Apps report published by Data Darbar, Pakistan ranks 10th globally in hours spent using mobile phones, with Pakistanis spending a total of 99 billion hours on their devices in 2023.

Punjab government readies draft for provincial cybercrime control law

Date: April 20, 2024 – Source: Dawn

In the wake of rapid technological advancements and rising cybercrime, the Punjab home department prepared a first draft of the Punjab Cyber Crime Control, Prevention and Punishment Act, 2024.

By-elections: Cellular internet services to go out in Punjab for ‘law and order’ reasons

Date: April 21, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Arab News

As 21 national and provincial seats go to by-polls, the federal government allowed the suspension of mobile internet services to ‘maintain law and order’ in 13 districts and tehsils in Punjab – on the recommendation of the Punjab government – as well as approved the deployment of armed forces.

DDI Index: Over half of Pakistan does not have access to internet

Date: April 24, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Published in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the first-ever Digital Development Index (DDI) report revealed 54.3 per cent of Pakistan was without access to affordable internet connectivity.

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

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

In swoop on tax dodgers, Federal Bureau of Revenue to block 0.5m mobile connections

Date: April 9, 2024 – Source: The News

As part of a stern action against tax-dodgers, the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) finalized a plan to block 500,000 SIMs of mobile phones of non-filers and under-filers in Pakistan.

Pakistan faces a crypto dilemma

Date: April 13, 2024 – Source: The News

As Pakistan fails to come up with coherent policies regarding cryptocurrencies, dozens of traders reported missing out on building a thriving trading career in digital assets.

Pakistan’s army vows stringent action against ‘online trolls’

Date: April 17, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan’s military leadership pledged to take stringent action against individuals disparaging the armed forces, emphasizing a zero-tolerance approach to maligning and attacks on their reputations on social media platforms.

Over 1.25 million URLs blocked in Pakistan over ‘objectionable content’

Date: April 17, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocked more than 1.25 million URLs over ‘objectionable content’, the telecommunication regulator told the Sindh High Court (SHC).

Sindh High Court tells government to justify or withdraw ban on X

Date: April 18, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the federal interior ministry to either justify the shutdown of social media platform X or rescind its letter directing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to ban the platform.

Over 120 cases against housing societies referred to FIA’s cybercrime wing

Date: April 18, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The district administration in Rawalpindi referred 129 complaints to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing (CCW) for the registration of cases against the city’s illegal private housing societies.

Government tells Islamabad High Court: ‘Misuse’ prompted ban on X

Date: April 18, 2024 – Source 1: Express Tribune, Source 2: Pakistan Today

The federal interior ministry informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the ban on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, was necessary following its failure to address concerns regarding ‘misuse’.

Over 17 political trends on X flagged ‘sensitive’ by anti-terrorism department

Date: April 18, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

Following monitoring of social media activities, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) flagged more than 17 trends on online microblogging platform X, formerly Twitter, as ‘sensitive’.

Government to block SIMs issued on expired national identity cards

Date: April 19, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Pakistan Today

Federal Minister for Interior Mohsin Naqvi directed the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) to block mobile phone SIMs on invalid and expired national identity cards.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

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

E-elections: Polls and the environment

Date: April 9, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Ballot paper production is resource-intensive and requires significant amounts of water, energy, and chemicals. Transitioning to electronic voting machines (EVMs) is therefore an urgent need. If approved earlier, costs for the national elections held in February 2024 could have been reduced by 48 per cent.

Plan to set up information technology city in Lahore finalized

Date: April 9, 2024 – Source: The News

Central Business District (CBD) Punjab forged an agreement with the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) to propel cooperation for the development of Pakistan’s largest information technology (IT) city in Lahore.

A digitized aerospace

Date: April 9, 2024 – Source: The News

Although Pakistan has made significant strides in aerospace production, there is still a need for improvement on the design and development side. The shift towards modernizing outdated sectors is essential for future successes and sustainability.

World Bank approves $149 million loan for Pakistan’s digitization

Date: April 9, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank (WB) approved financing of $149.7 million for the ‘Digital Economy’ and ‘Food Prevention’ projects of Pakistan, aimed at improving economic efficiency, coordination and transparency and prevention of floods in the future.

Why we need electronic medical records

Date: April 14, 2024 – Source: Dawn

A national registry of electronic medical records (EMRs) can result in better healthcare delivery and disease management. EMRs are critical to streamlining Pakistan’s flailing healthcare system, despite the challenges involved in their implementation.

Pakistan at venture crossroads

Date: April 14, 2024 – Source: The News

Pakistani corporates need to embrace entrepreneurship and venture-driven growth or they will miss coming opportunities and fall behind. In many ways, Pakistan’s current venture ecosystem can be compared to Brazil’s a decade ago.

Information technology experts push for digital solutions in Pakistan

Date: April 16, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

Digital marketing has overshadowed conventional methods because the advantages of digital tools far outweigh the disadvantages. Information technology (IT) experts highlighted the effectivity of digital solutions for small businesses to market their products and services.

PMDC to launch upgraded online registration system

Date: April 17, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: The Nation

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) announced plans for the introduction of its newly upgraded portal. The upgraded system is a dynamic platform is designed to cater to the evolving needs of the medical fraternity across Pakistan.

End-to-end digitization: Federal Bureau of Revenue to hire international consultant

Date: April 20, 2024 – Source: The News

The federal government decided to select an international consultant who will be assigned to place end-to-end digitization of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers as well as other potential taxpayers within the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).

Pakistan’s IT sector secures $500 million in investment pledges at technology expo in Lahore

Date: April 21, 2024 – Source: The News

The 24th edition of the ITCN Asia Expo in Lahore generated over $500 million in business and investment deals for the local and international information technology (IT), telecommunication and allied sectors.

Parliamentary transparency

Date: April 21, 2024 – Source: The News

A great leap towards civic engagement and accountability of representative legislators can be made through the introduction of e-parliament. An e-parliament system gives all internet users a direct line to legislative records. The voters then get to know if their representatives are echoing their voices.

Pakistan’s information technology exports surge to $306 million in March 2024

Date: April 23, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Pakistan recorded the highest-ever monthly information technology (IT) exports of $306 million in March 2024, posting a 37 per cent increase over the corresponding month last year.

Digital application launched to tackle climate change in Punjab

Date: April 23, 2025 – Source: The News

A private technology company in Punjab launched the ‘Greening App’, an online platform designed to track trees planted at Miyawaki forests across the province besides providing real-time calculation for carbon emissions.


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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