PESHAWAR, Nov 5 (APP): The internet users in Pakistan has swelled to a record 87.35 million in January this year, helping them to get all types of information on varieties of subjects including geopolitical development, economic, social, sports and culture besides others day-to-day happenings in and around the globe on a single click on mobile phones.
In the wake of 4.4 million increases in the internet ushers during the last two years in the country, the number of active cellular mobile connections had swelled to a record 191.8 million, which is equivalent to 80.5 percent of the total population of the country. Resultantly, the number of social media users’ had registered an upward increase to record 71.50 million.
The data of social media platforms have revealed that 37.30 million people were using facebook, 71.70 million YouTube, 12.95 million instagram, 16.51 million TikTok, 9.30 million Linkedin, 4.65 million twitter and 25.70 million snapchat in the country.The above data indicated that Pakistan has witnessed a remarkable growth in internet, social and digital media users in recent years with both positive and negative effects on social fabric of the society.
Besides others, political parties, Pakistan Tahrik-e-Insaf have also excessively used social media during their respective rules for projection of its policies, initiatives, reforms and its leadership.
“When caretaker government took over, we have unearthed that PTI government recruited about 1,109 social media influencers (SMI) who were being paid monthly salary from the government kitty for launching negative propaganda against political opponents and projection of PTI’s policies and its leadership through their social media accounts on daily basis,” told Farooz Jamal Kakakhel, caretaker Provincial Minister for Information and Tourism while talking to APP.
He said all SMIs were paid Rs 25,000 per month from the KP government kitty while sitting at homes and were carrying out malicious propaganda against the rival political parties, leaderships and state institutions besides continued personal projection of the PTI leadership, adding as result of these irrational policies and alleged misappropriation in payment to PTI’s SMIs/U-Tubers had led to political intolerance and chaos in the society besides very negative effects in the social fabrics.
An official source said that SMIs were inducted in 2021 under an establishment of “social media participatory platform for public project” with initial allocation of Rs 870 million in the Annual Development Program of the then PTI government.
Later, the project cost was revised to Rs 736 million, and that 1360 internees including 1253 SMIs were inducted on Rs 25,000 per month in different departments initially for one year. The project was later closed on April 4, 2023 by the caretaker KP government after unearthing the alleged financial scam and salaries of all SMIs were stopped citing unavailability of fund.
During time of closer of the project, the source said the total number of internees was 1,104 including 1050 SMIs on whom Rs242 million were spent from the KP government kitty in nearly two years. The source said that alleged misappropriations in payments to PTI U-tubers and SMIs were taken by the NAB and FIA for inquiry.
Wajid Ali Khan, PML-N leader and former KP Minister for Environment accused the former PTI government for spending huge taxpayer’s money for its personal projection in a bid to mislead people and hide its 10-year long poor performance in the province.
Without naming the PTI Chairman, the PML-N leader alleged that government funds, seemingly intended for public development, were massively used by the former PTI rulers by recruiting mostly its workers as SMIs to promote the hallow agenda of a specific individual rather than spending it on genuine welfare of people of KP, who were deceived in the name of change for nearly a decade besides creating rift among state institutions and people.
He said the PTI government has used social media influencers as propaganda tool after it failed to fulfill its promise of constructing five million houses and providing jobs to 10 million people. He said that PTI flagship Billion Trees Afforestration Project was taken over by NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Peshawar High Court while Peshawar that was once known as city of flowers was converted into a traffic mess due to ill-planned BRT corridor.
Wajid Ali Khan said the much trumpeted Sehat Card scheme was launched in haste without proper planning by the PTI incompetent rulers that was currently marred by payment controversies with State Life Corporation, resultantly poor patients coming from across the province were suffering today.
He demanded completion of inquiry regarding alleged misappropriation of government funds in payment of salaries to SMIs and bringing the real culprits to justice so that no political party can use taxpayers’ money for its personal gains in future.
He said an election campaign was about to start in the country and it was the responsibility of the caretaker government and Election Commission to monitor social media platforms and ensure that objectionable materials and personal attacks through social and digital media could not be used against state institutions.
APP/fam/taj (APP Feature Service)