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Internet Shutdown In Pakistan: Sudden Plunge Into Darkness

Last Updated on May 19, 2023 by Fatima Sajid

As a freelancer in the digital age, my life revolves around the virtual realm. From the comfort of my home office, I have the freedom to work with clients across the globe, relying on the steady flow of internet connectivity to fuel my career.

But then, the unexpected happened—an internet shutdown swept across the entire country, disrupting the very foundation of my freelance existence.

A spokesperson of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) received an order from the interior ministry to suspend mobile broadband service as protests broke out following Khan’s arrest.

While mobile users have reported difficulty in using social apps including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, PTA spokesperson Malahat Obaid denied that the apps were blocked by the telecom authority.

“These apps are still working, but on throttle, so you can’t say they are blocked,” she said, referring to a Internet Shutdown In Pakistan practice used by internet providers to restrict internet speed without informing users.


A report by Open Observatory, a global open data resource that monitors internet censorship, shows that YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were restricted by service providers on Tuesday evening, while users were unable to access Instagram after Wednesday morning.

This is the narration of every freelancer’s journey through the tumultuous experience of a countrywide internet shutdown, where uncertainty and resilience became my constant companions.



Effects Of Internet Shutdown In Pakistan

  • The Freelancer’s World

In the freelance world, the internet is the lifeline of all the freelancing service providers. It connects them to clients, allows me to collaborate with fellow freelancers, and provides access to a wealth of information. With a reliable internet connection, the possibilities are endless, and my career thrives in this interconnected landscape.

  • A Sudden Plunge into Darkness

One fateful day, the internet abruptly vanished. Panic set in as I realized the gravity of the situation—a countrywide internet shutdown. My heart sank as I grappled with the implications—projects put on hold, deadlines looming, and the virtual world I had come to rely upon crumbling around me.

  • Stranded and Disconnected

As the reality of the internet shutdown sunk in, I felt an overwhelming sense of disconnection. Communication channels were severed, leaving me adrift in a sea of uncertainty. The platforms I once relied on for collaboration and client interaction became inaccessible, leaving me stranded with unfinished tasks and unanswered inquiries.

  • The Financial Storm

With the internet shutdown, my income stream evaporated before my eyes. Potential clients were out of reach, ongoing projects stagnated, and the prospect of financial stability slipped away. The storm clouds of financial insecurity loomed overhead, adding to the already heavy burden of uncertainty.

  • Emotional Turmoil

The toll of the internet shutdown extended beyond financial concerns. Waves of frustration, helplessness, and anxiety crashed against my shores. Doubts flooded my mind as I questioned my choices and feared losing hard-earned clients, damaging relationships that had taken years to build.

  • Embracing Resourcefulness

In the face of adversity, I refused to succumb to despair. With the internet offline, I tapped into my resourcefulness, seeking alternative means of connection. Broadband became a lifelines, allowing everyone sporadic moments of connectivity to salvage essential communication.

  • Navigating the Offline Waters

As the freelancer’s adjusted to the offline reality, they discovered the power of the offline world. They organized local meetups with fellow freelancers, sharing stories, strategies, and support. Offline networking events became an oasis of connection, reminding me of the value of face-to-face interactions in a world dominated by screens.

  • Lessons in Resilience

Throughout the internet shutdown, I learned invaluable lessons in resilience. I adapted to offline work routines, sharpened my skills, and explored avenues for personal and professional growth. The storm of uncertainty became an opportunity to reflect, refocus, and emerge stronger than ever before.

  • The Light at the End of the Tunnel

As the darkness of the internet shutdown gradually lifted, connectivity began to flicker back to life. I diligently reached out to clients, explaining the challenges faced during the shutdown and seeking to rebuild bridges of trust. The road to recovery may be long, but the resilience forged during this trying period guides me forward.

Rise in VPN usage

Pakistani mobile consumers are familiar with limitations on apps and internet services. After nationwide protests were sparked by YouTube’s broadcasting of an anti-Islam film in 2013, the website was shut down. The restriction was removed after three years, but in the following years, following significant protests, the government has instituted unannounced shutdowns.

Following Tuesday’s closure, Twitter users flocked to the social media site to share creative workarounds and compare notes on the best VPN providers.

“The day [Tuesday] finished with VPN demand being 1,329 percent higher than the 28-day average prior to the social media blocks,” Simon Migliano of Top10VPN, a website that reviews and rates VPN services.

A Hit To An Already Frail Economy

The shutdown has affected many commercial sectors throughout the cash-strapped nation, in addition to causing an information blackout and limiting contact, as it waits for assistance from the International Monetary Fund in the form of a $1 billion bailout.

“As a technology-driven logistics company, we have seen our sales volumes drop drastically – down by 36 percent – since May 9,” The CEO of Trax, which claims to have the third-largest e-commerce fulfillment share in Pakistan, Hassan Khan, said.

According to reports in Pakistani media, the telecom industry has lost $2.85 million since Tuesday, while the government has lost close to $1 million in tax revenue.

A group of venture capital firms that specialise in startups and the digital economy released a statement on Thursday claiming that the limitations and suspension of mobile internet will “add to negative investor perceptions” and that the Pakistani government must take immediate steps to abolish the restrictions.

The telecommunications body that enforced the nationwide suspension of mobile broadband, however, did not specify when the 125 million mobile broadband customers in the nation will be able to resume using the service.

Internet Shutdown In Pakistan


The internet shutdown in Pakistan tested the mettle of freelancers like myself, pushing us to the brink of our professional and emotional limits. Yet, within the depths of uncertainty, we discovered our inner resilience. We adapted, innovated, and sought alternative paths to navigate the turbulent waters. As the digital landscape gradually regains its strength, we emerge from this experience with newfound appreciation for the internet’s power, an unwavering determination to overcome obstacles, and the knowledge that our freelance spirit can weather any storm.

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