The recent suspension of internet services due to protests following the arrest of Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, has significantly impacted the economy and income of people.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority confirmed that mobile broadband services were suspended as directed by the interior ministry, but no timeline has been provided for their restoration. This internet shutdown comes at a challenging time for Pakistan’s struggling economy. The country is grappling with record-high inflation, a drop in workers’ remittances, declining exports, and a revised growth rate projection of 0.4 percent by the World Bank. Additionally, the political turmoil has caused the Pakistani rupee to reach a new low against the US dollar.
Pakistan is currently facing a trust deficit, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and traditionally friendly countries hesitant to provide assistance due to unmet bailout conditions and lack of trust in the government. Ehsan Malik, CEO of the Pakistan Business Council, highlights the contraction in demand caused by inflation and a shortage of foreign exchange reserves. Skilled professionals, such as IT specialists and engineers, are leaving the country in search of better opportunities abroad. The recent turmoil may also delay the resumption of the IMF program and negatively impact tax collection, employment rates, and gig economy workers who rely on mobile internet services.
The ongoing political circus in Pakistan is damaging the country’s international image and hindering foreign direct investment, according to Wille Eerola, chairman of the Finland Pakistan Business Council. The suspension of mobile broadband services not only hampers communication but also deprives millions of Pakistanis of access to essential services, education, healthcare, and commerce. It further affects freelancers’ ability to participate in the global economy and has resulted in significant revenue losses for telecom operators and the government.
The disruption to internet services has caused substantial losses for the IT freelance industry, and international platforms like Fiverr are automatically placing Pakistani freelancers in unavailability mode due to the situation. The impact is not limited to economic losses but also affects investors’ confidence and the overall growth of e-commerce businesses in Pakistan. The arrest of Imran Khan has ignited anger among young people who see him as a beacon of hope for the country. The combination of economic challenges and internet shutdowns has intensified concerns about business continuity and growth in Pakistan.
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