By Asghar Ali Mubarak
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tuesday expressed alarm over India blocking Twitter accounts of Pakistani Embassies in several locations.
“Deeply concerning that India has blocked flow of information to Indian Twitter by withholding access to following official accounts,” the Foreign Office said on Twitter, adding that the accounts that were withheld in India are official handles run by Pakistan’s Missions in Iran, Turkiye, Egypt, and the United Nations.
Monday, it was reported in Indian news outlets that the neighbouring country had also withheld the Twitter handle of the official Radio Pakistan.
According todetails, the move came after the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting earlier blocked 16 YouTube news channels including six Pakistan-based channels, claiming they were “spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations, and public order”.
Earlier, Twitter had also blocked accounts of certain journalists — Indian and international — who are critical of the Modi regime.
Condemning the restriction on Twitter, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted on Monday night that the diminishing space for plurality of voices and access to information in India was “extremely alarming”.
“Social media platforms must abide by applicable international norms,” it stressed. In a follow-up tweet, the FO urged Twitter to immediately restore access to the Pakistan missions’ accounts and ensure adherence to democratic freedom of speech and expression.
Later in the day, it emerged that India had also blocked Radio Pakistan’s Twitter account. “The social media handle has been withheld mainly for highlighting grave human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the state broadcaster said in a report.
Expressing concern over the development, Radio Pakistan Spokesperson Chaudhry Zameer Asharf said the broadcaster upheld objectivity in its news stories and strictly abided by international journalistic norms.
Separately, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog body, has called on Indian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release journalist Mohammad Zubair, who was arrested by security officials on Monday, and to cease harassing him in retaliation for his work,
“The arrest of journalist Mohammad Zubair marks another low for press freedom in India, where the government has created a hostile and unsafe environment for members of the press reporting on sectarian issues,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator, in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.
“Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Zubair, and allow him to pursue his journalistic work without further interference,” Butler added.
Officers with the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit of the Delhi police on Monday picked up Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, after summoning him for questioning, according to multiple news reports and a tweet by Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha.