History of Social Media in Pakistan

The history of social media and Internet use in Pakistan is densely rich although it is a relatively new online culture. The Internet has only been available in Pakistan since 1992, and since its inception the Internet in Pakistan has developed several million devote followers. According to the historical information provided by Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan, ISPAK, the very first beginnings of Internet in Pakistan were introduced with a dial-up E-mail service provided by Imran-Net in 1992-93. Following the success of that dial-up E-mail venture, a new project called Sustainable Development Networking Programme was instituted in Islamabad in 1993. As their article states, “This self-sustainable project was meant to provide dial-up, UUCP based email service to general public and support to projects related to education, sustainable development, NGO’s and other related areas” (ISPAK ).

After the SDNPK was found successful even more signed on for it, even those outside of Islamabad. The project received funding for a few more years, and established holds in other cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. Eventually the emergence of many more ISPs caused this programme to loose interest. In 1996 the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was instituted. Following the institution of the PTA steady increases in bandwidth and delivery afforded Pakistan with easier and more accessible Internet usage. From 2007 on Pakistan experiences a fast and well-working Internet. The only roadblock to progression in Pakistani Internet use are the multiple bills sent to the government on behalf of the PTA. The first of these is the Cyber Crime Act of 2009. This act sought the elimination of cyber terrorism through monitoring of Internet activities and systematic arrests of those deemed by the Bill to be cyber terrorists. Cyber Terrorism is defined as: Any person, group or organization who, with terroristic intent utilizes, accesses or causes to be accessed a computer or computer network or electronic system or electronic device or by any available means, and thereby knowingly engages in or attempts to engage in a terroristic act commits the offense of cyber terrorism. Many are opposed to this bill, and all reincarnations of it because it threatens the innocent Pakistani people’s freedoms.This is the Bill that generated all future bills concerning cyber terrorism and measures against it that are currently being fought by many of the Pakistani public.

Today, in the Country Ranks of 2014 Pakistan was listed as among the top 20 countries with Internet users at 20,431,000, and as the 57th country for Internet hosts with only 365,813. The inference from this information is that the amount of people signing on to the Internet in Pakistan is a number rapidly increasing. The increasing amount of Internet use is most obvious in social media memberships. According to the article “Social, Digital, and Mobile in Pakistan” by Simon Kemp social media in Pakistan has grown 50% since the original report he posted. The numbers show that 8,007,460 Pakistanis are on social media sites. This report states that nearly two thirds of the Pakistani population are below the age of 30, and the country is proposed to be the 4th fastest growing country in the world population wise. This allows for an even greater portion of the population to engage with social media, as the younger demographic tends to be the most dynamic with communication. “However, Facebook is adding new users in Pakistan at a rate of one every 12 seconds, and 28% of social media users make use of 2 or more platforms, suggesting plenty of potential for growth in social media use in the country during 2013.” (Kemp). The article also states the intended growth of other social media sites, such as Twitter. “Twitter users hover around the 2 million mark, although some estimates put Pakistan’s Twitter population closer to 3 million. Google+ also appears to have a certain popularity in Pakistan, although exact user numbers are harder to come by.” (Kemp)

This information is useful in understanding the changing complexity of social media and terrorism in Pakistan. The usage of social media by the general public is escalating exponentially and the only problem with that is that the PTA seeks every opportunity to enact new bills that censor and threaten these Internet users. It is true that the use of social media by terrorists has increased, and with those numbers as evidence the PTA has tried several times to enact Bills that could monitor everyone’s Internet usage, and help to arrest those terrorists who are using social media. As is the case with any Bill that could infringe on the public rights however these bills have been met with open public opposition.

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