The ban, instated until 1100 GMT on YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram, comes as government tries to stem days of anti-French protests by supporters of now-banned far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.

Police officers arrive to confront angry supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, an extremist party that set fires during protests following the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan on April 13, 2021.
Police officers arrive to confront angry supporters of Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan, an extremist party that set fires during protests following the arrest of their party leader Saad Rizvi, in Karachi, Pakistan on April 13, 2021. (AP)

The Pakistan government has ordered an hours-long shut down of social media and instant messaging platforms, after days of violent anti-France protests.

In a notice to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the Interior Ministry requested a "complete blocking" of Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, YouTube and Telegram until 3pm (1100 GMT).

It gave no reason for the ban, but it comes a day after French nationals and companies in Pakistan were advised by their embassy to temporarily leave in the wake of the rallies led by an extremist party that paralysed large parts of the country and left two police officers dead.

Political parties frequently use social media platforms to rally supporters.

READ MORE: Pakistan to ban far-right religious party over violent protests

Violent anti-France protests

Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters spilled onto the streets after their leader was detained on Tuesday following his calls for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

Anti-French sentiment has been festering for months in Pakistan since President Emmanuel Macron threw his support behind a satirical magazine's right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed, deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has struggled to bring Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan to heel over the years, but this week announced an outright ban against the group, effectively labelling it a terrorist outfit.

READ MORE: Protests turn violent in Pakistan over religious party leader detention

Source: AFP