Claim: Mohsin Naqvi says the United States has recently banned TikTok.

Fact: Naqvi’s claim is incorrect. The US House of Representatives has passed a bill offering TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to divest its US assets or face a ban; the Chinese application has six months to comply. The said bill has yet to pass the Senate and needs to be signed into law by US President Joe Biden.

On 19 March 2024, Pakistan’s interior minister, Mohsin Raza Naqvi, claimed that the US — which he termed “the best democracy” — has recently banned TikTok. He made the comment while speaking to journalists in Lahore where one of the reporters asked him about the ban on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that has faced consistent disruption since the controversial 2024 general elections.

The relevant exchange between Naqvi and the reporter has been reproduced as follows:

Reporter: You’re a journalist yourself and you’ve been a flag-bearer of freedom of expression. Today, a major platform for the freedom of expression is social media [X], which is currently banned. So much so that we have seen that even our Prime Minister tweets but Twitter is banned so he’s using a VPN [virtual private network]. Ministers are tweeting [and] they, too, are using VPNs. Was this [X] banned with the permission of the interior ministry? Why has it been banned? When will it be resumed?

Mohsin Naqvi: I don’t think so. I think, see, until there are no laws [pertaining to social media]… You absolutely exercise your freedom of expression, whatever you do, but leveling allegations against someone or something, I believe this is significantly wrong, and whoever is doing this, it should be fixed and laws should be introduced.

Reporter: There’s a lot of trolling on social media with regard to the Pakistan Army and various politicians as well.

MN: It [the trolling] is also being done against the judiciary. I’m a big supporter of laws [pertaining to social media] and [to tackle] false allegations. Wherever you go in the world, there are laws. Just now, America issued a charge sheet and banned TikTok after so many issues. So if, in a country like America where we say has the best democracy, this [banning of social media applications] is being done, then we have to review our laws [to regulate social media] as well and ensure that there is no limitation on the freedom of expression. But we definitely need to tackle the wrong [use] and misuse [of social media].

Mohsin Naqvi’s remarks were carried by various media outlets and can be seen on the YouTube channels of Dawn News, Geo News, Dunya News, 24 News HD, and Aaj TV at the 3:04, 3:54, 4:50, 4:34, and 2:43 marks.

2024 elections

The National Assembly of Pakistan convened (archive) its maiden session on 29 February 2024 despite the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) claim that the 2024 general elections were rigged. On 4 March, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif was elected (archive) the country’s prime minister after beating PTI-backed candidate, Omar Ayub Khan.

The 2024 general elections in Pakistan were marred by allegations of rigging as results were declared (archive) “more than 60 hours after voting ended”, with PTI-backed independent candidates taking the lead over those who contested on the PML-N ticket.

Despite being jailed (archive) for a total of 31 years for corruption, leaking state secrets, and an un-Islamic marriage (archive), former prime minister Imran Khan declared victory in a speech (archive) generated by artificial intelligence (AI), with 93 of the 264 seats secured by his independent candidates, according to the Reuters article cited above. The party of his main opponent, PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif, got 75 seats, with the former premier, too, claiming he won.

The PTI cried foul (archive) as the results of 18 seats “allegedly won by the party were ‘falsely changed’” and its supporters launched protests across Pakistan.

X ban

In the days following the 8 February elections, former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha made headlines when, on 17 February, he confessed (archive) to alleged rigging in the results of the 2024 general elections in Pakistan, saying they were “manipulated” under his watch and announcing his immediate resignation from his post.

Chattha further alleged some candidates’ losses were converted into victories, according to a report (archive) by The Independent. Days later, however, he made an about-turn, saying his allegations were “misleading” and were made “at the behest of a political party”, The Express Tribune reported (archive).

X has since been facing consistent disruption (archive), with state institutions shifting blame and evading responsibility.

Rights groups have expressed concern, activists and journalists have written op-eds, petitions have been filed (archive) in the courts, and even the United States (archive) has urged the Government of Pakistan to “restore access to any social media”, yet X remains inaccessible despite an order (archive) by the Sindh High Court (SHC) to unban the platform.

In the latest update, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has informed (archive) the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the interior ministry was responsible for providing an answer to the ban on the platform. Earlier, the regulator told (archive) the SHC that the ban “was imposed on orders issued by the Ministry of Interior following reports given by intelligence agencies”.

Fact or Fiction?

On 13 March 2024, the US House of Representatives passed a bill called the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act by a vote of 352-65 that “prohibits distributing, maintaining, or providing internet hosting services for a foreign adversary controlled application (e.g., TikTok)”. It stems from certain US lawmakers’ fears (archive) of Chinese influence or surveillance of Americans through the use of the app.

“However, the prohibition does not apply to a covered application that executes a qualified divestiture as determined by the President,” the bill states.

This means that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese technology company that owns TikTok, has been advised to divest from its stakes in TikTok before six months are up from the time the bill is enacted. If it fails to do so, a ban may be imposed on the social media app, i.e., it may be removed from Apple’s and Google’s app stores in the US.

However, it is critical to note here that any bill passed by the US House of Representatives cannot become a law until it is ratified by the country’s Senate and signed by President Joe Biden — neither of which has happened as of writing time. Moreover, the bill’s future prospects still remain unclear (archive) as it “faces a minefield in the Senate”.

Furthermore, if passed, TikTok may also appeal such a decision in the courts.

At present, the US “Congress, the White House and the US armed forces have banned TikTok from government-issued phones, and 39 states have taken similar action to protect state-owned devices”, according to USA Today (archive).


Soch Fact Check found that multiple media outlets regurgitated the claim made by Mohsin Naqvi, without flagging his remarks as false. Such reports were published by Dawn, Independent Urdu, Express Tribune, BOL News, Dunya News, Al Arabiya, Pakistan Today,, Nawaiwaqt, Thursday Times, UrduPoint, Times of Karachi, SAMAA TV, and even the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Conclusion: Naqvi’s claim is incorrect. The US House of Representatives has passed a bill offering TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to divest its US assets or face a ban; the Chinese application has six months to comply. The said bill has yet to pass the Senate and needs to be signed into law by US President Joe Biden.

Background image in cover photo: Aaj TV Official video; TikTok visual: Solen Feyissa

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