On Friday Pakistan joined the list of countries like India and the US -- whose differences with China are out in the open -- in banning the Chinese app TikTok.
The ban on the Chinese social media app on Friday citing "immoral content", left many wondering, if Islamabad's dream of becoming an "all-weather ally" with Beijing will ever become a reality. The Pakistan government has often been accused of turning a blind eye towards human rights violations against Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China in hope of having an "all-weather ally".
On Friday, Pakistan became the latest country to impose a ban on the Chinese short video-making app, after receiving a "number of complaints from different segments of the society", the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a press statement.
According to the press release on Friday, several complaints were made "against immoral/indecent content" that was shared on the app, Dawn reported.
The PTA said it had earlier issued a "final notice" to TikTok and gave the application "considerable time to respond and comply with" instructions for the development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of "unlawful online content".
However, the company "failed to fully comply" with the PTA's instructions, after which the authority decided to ban it in the country.
Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi says the PTA has blocked TikTok, not because of immoral content but because TikTokers are poking fun at the country's leadership. "Now Pakistan is in the same anti-China-TikTok league as the US and India. Welcome to Naya (new) Pakistan," quipped Sethi.
Condemning Pakistan's move, a Chinese national living in Pakistan tweeted, "Isn't there enough immoral and indecent content in social media like Twitter and Facebook?" "Culturally I don't think it's wise for Pakistan to ban #TikTok. Strongly hope Pakistan to reconsider the practical situation so that the people-to-people connectivity be further and deeper (sic) enhanced," the user said in another tweet.
The ban by Pakistan comes at a time when there is an international outcry over the short video-making app for compromising the nations' security at the behest of China.
The PTA statement, however, added that it "is open for engagement" and would review its decision if TikTok develops a mechanism to moderate the content that is posted on the video-sharing platform.
The video-sharing app, which is owned by China's ByteDance, has been downloaded almost 39 million times in Pakistan and is the third-most downloaded app over the past year after WhatsApp and Facebook, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Recently, a miscellaneous civil application was filed in the Lahore High Court demanding an immediate ban on TikTok.
Advocate Nadeem Sarwar had moved the application on behalf of a citizen who is also a petitioner in a main petition in this regard, pending with the court, The Dawn reported.
The lawyer contended that hearing of the main petition against TikTok had not been fixed so far and the matter was of great importance. More than 10 deaths had been reported in the country in incidents relating to the users of the application, he said.