Digital Pakistan Monitor – June 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. 6 June 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

Federal cabinet approves law to digitize services sector

Date: June 12, 2024 – Source 1: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Source 2: Dawn

The federal cabinet approved the Digital Nation Pakistan Act 2024 to establish the National Digital Commission (NDC) and Pakistan Digital Authority (PDA), in a bid to ensure the digitization of the economy and promote e-governance.

Pakistan conducts first Symmetric 50G-PON trial

Date: June 21, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Pakistan Today

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), in collaboration with Huawei, conducted the country’s first trial of Symmetric 50G-PON technology that will help implement the next-generation fiber-optic broadband services in Pakistan.

IFC approves $400 million loan for PTCL to acquire Telenor Pakistan

Date: June 29, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: Pakistan Today

The Board of Directors of the International Finance Commission (IFC) approved debt financing of up to $400 million to Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) for the acquisition of Telenor Pakistan.

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

Tribalism to technology

Date: June 9, 2024 – Source: The News

In the coming decades, science will replace natural selection by intelligent design – the design of cloud computing. The inorganic life shaped by the intelligent design would need a cosmic instead of a tribalistic vision that is being shaped by social media.

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

Peshawar police barred from posting on TikTok to ‘improve discipline’

Date: June 4, 2024 – Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Kashif Zulfiqar issued an order restricting all personnel of the Peshawar police department from uploading videos on social media platforms, including TikTok. 

Can the ‘Great Wall’ stop PTI?

Date: June 9, 2024 – Source: Dawn

If what sources are saying is correct, Pakistan may just be a few days away from deploying and extensively using a Chinese firewall system to monitor and block social media content, and even police virtual private networks (VPNs) which many Pakistanis have used since access to X was blocked.

Federal Investigation Agency warns citizens of criminals targeting WhatsApp accounts

Date: June 11, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alerted the general public that incidents of hacking citizens’ WhatsApp accounts had increased, with cybercriminals specifically targeting women’s accounts.

Audio leak inquiry: CJP says audio featuring former PM did not leak from Supreme Court

Date: June 15, 2024 – Source 1: Pakistan Today, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa stated that the audio allegedly featuring former prime minister Imran Khan had not been leaked from the Supreme Court, and assured that he had thoroughly investigated the matter with the court staff.

Police seek to overturn court order restricting surveillance data access

Date: June 16, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Islamabad Police (IP) urged the advocate general to challenge an Islamabad High Court (IHC) order that had virtually handicapped intelligence and law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes and monitor terrorist activities.

Surveillance system launched for facial, number plate recognition at toll plazas

Date: June 21, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah inaugurated the Sindh Smart Surveillance System (S4) project aimed at providing a comprehensive and integrated security solution for all major entry and exit points connecting all major cities in Sindh.

PTA directed to submit reply in petition seeking ban on TikTok

Date: June 21, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: The News, Source 3: Pakistan Today

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) put on notice Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), seeking its response to a petition requesting for a complete ban on video-sharing application TikTok as it failed to stop the uploading of ‘blasphemous and indecent’ material on its platform.

Will new drone registration rules fly or not?

Date: June 24, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Ministry of Aviation finalized a fresh framework to register drones and unmanned aircraft, but the draft rules developed for the purpose left stakeholders and experts skeptical, as they believe the ‘vague’ nature of proposed regulations would throttle the general use of hobbyists and cinematographers.

Can artificial intelligence help Pakistan counter terrorism?

Date: June 24, 2024 – Source: The News

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (MI) offer tremendous potential for combating terrorism in Pakistan through a variety of innovative approaches. Security can be significantly increased by using biometric verification systems.  

Islamabad High Court reserves verdict on plea for suspects’ surveillance

Date: June 26, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved a verdict on the capital police’s request to allow surveillance of suspects, after a crime has been committed.

50,000 file tax returns to unblock mobile connections, FBR reveals

Date: June 26, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) claimed that nearly 50,000 individuals filed their returns for the tax year 2023 after their mobile SIMs were blocked and retailers were registered as part of an effort to broaden the tax base.

Intelligence agencies can directly obtain data from telecommunication operators, IHC told

Date: June 26, 2024 – Source: The News

Additional Attorney General Munawwar Iqbal Duggal told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the audio leaks case that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) can directly collect data from telecommunication service providers when needed.

PTA ordered to remove ‘blasphemous’ content from TikTok

Date: June 27, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Express Tribune, Source 3: The Nation

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to immediately remove ‘blasphemous and objectionable’ content from TikTok on a petition seeking a permanent ban on the social media platform’s operations in Pakistan.

SECTION 4: Digitalization

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

Sindh hospital to be equipped with latest artificial intelligence technology

Date: June 1, 2024 – Source: The News

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that technology firm PAXERA had been engaged to install PACS and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical College (JPMC), which are currently being used at John Hopkins Hospital and Harvard Medical School’s hospitals.

Turkish fin-tech firm buys SadaPay

Date: June 1, 2024 – Source: Express Tribune

Turkiye-based financial technology firm Unicorn Papara acquired 100 per cent shares of Pakistani payment platform SadaPay, expanding its footprint in South Asia and Middle East regions. 

Prince Rahim inaugurates software park in Hunza

Date: June 9, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Chitral Today

The Software Technology Park, a collaborative effort between the Special Communications Organization (SCO) and Agha Khan Foundation Pakistan (AKF-P), was inaugurated by Prince Rahim Agha Khan in Hunza.

Punjab CM approves launching of digital guidance application for farmers

Date: June 9, 2024 – Source 1: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), Source 2: The News

Following the approval of Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, the Punjab Livestock Card (PLC) and a dedicated Farmer Guidance Application was launched, a first in Pakistan’s history.

China to invest in Pakistan’s artificial intelligence, solar energy sectors

Date: June 9, 2024 – Source 1: Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), Source 2: The News

Chinese business groups, after discussion with Pakistani delegates, committed to significant investments in Pakistan, targeting sectors such as artificial intelligence (AI), science and technology, logistics, solar energy and healthcare.

Failure to accept credit, debit cards could result in closure, FBR warns Pakistani businesses

Date: June 15, 2024 – Source 1: The News, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR), Source 3: Hum English

Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Amjed Zubair Tiwana said that businesses in Pakistan refusing to accept credit or debit payments will face strict action, including sealing of premises. 

Mobile tax hike may hinder Pakistan’s digital future, warns GSMA

Date: June 16, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Julian Gorman, head of Asia-Pacific Affairs at GSMA, expressed concerns that Pakistan’s recent increase in taxes on mobile phone manufacturing could jeopardize the GSMA’s Smartphone for All initiative.

Prime Minister believes transition to e-office will provide better public services

Date: June 16, 2024 – Source 1: Dawn, Source 2: Business Recorder (BR)

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the main objective behind the usage of e-office system in federal ministries and departments was to provide better services to the public, besides ensuring transparency in governance.

Prime Minister hails use of drones to keep Lahore’s canal clean

Date: June 20, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appreciated Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz and her team for using aerial drones to assist in keeping Lahore’s canal clean following the festival of Eid.

Pakistan, Google partner for digital transformation of education sector

Date: June 21, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The federal education ministry and Google announced a strategic collaboration to improve access to education and support the development of a digital ecosystem for learning, with the agreement also aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children across Pakistan.

Amid criticism, Sindh government set to buy robotic surgical system

Date: June 24, 2024 – Source: Dawn

Amid opposition from professional medical bodies, the Sindh government decided to go ahead with the controversial procurement of a robotic surgical system for the Liaquat University Hospital (LUH).

Lahore High Court announces raft of reforms to expedite service delivery

Date: June 27, 2024 – Source: Dawn

The Lahore High Court (LHC) announced a ‘reform package’ to enhance public service delivery and judicial efficiency in the district judiciary including e-filing of petitions.


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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