Pakistan has recently become an active tourist destination which has risen to over 1.9 million in 2018. That is hardly surprising, considering the fascinating landscapes that lie deep in the heart of the country.
Surrounding all that natural beauty, however, is an elephant in the room impacts freedom of expression in the country: heavy online censorship and digital surveillance impinging on the privacy and safety of bloggers, activists, and average users.
In this precarious political and social environment, using a VPN is more of utmost important than ever to attain Internet freedom and exercise your right to free expression.
In this guide, I will be discussing some of the best VPN for Pakistan that will hide all your online activities while keeping you anonymous in the eyes government and hackers.
Let’s have a brief overview of Pakistan VPNs below:
- Surfshark – Super-affordable and covers unlimited devices
- ExpressVPN – Super-fast and has strong encryption and protection
- CyberGhost – Easy to use and offers 45-days money-back guarantee with 10 servers in Pakistan
- Ivacy – Strong security but affordable price with 1 server in Pakistan
- HideMyAss – Access streaming websites with over 1,300 servers (6 servers in Pakistan)
5 Best VPN Services for Pakistan
To qualify as a suitable VPN in Pakistan, I used factors but they are not limited to jurisdiction, logging policy, price, and servers.
Let’s discuss some of these VPNs in detail.
Surfshark is also located in the BVI, presumably because of the fact that service providers are free from any data retention requirements in the country.
For users in Pakistan with laws that go against the basic right to privacy, Surfshark can be quite valuable. The reason why we chose Surfshark as the best Pakistan VPN is because of its affordable price available at $1.99/mo.
The logging policy of Surfshark is designed with user privacy in mind. Therefore, it doesn’t monitor or store any information that could compromise user privacy.
Having 1,000+ servers in key locations around the world, Surfshark grants passage to censored pages on the Internet that you can’t normally access from Pakistan. But it doesn’t have servers in Pakistan, you won’t be able to access Pakistani websites that are blocked outside the country.
ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is a country well beyond the clutches of surveillance states known as 5/9/14 Eyes country.
In BVI, ISPs and VPN providers are not required to store logs of users for any amount of time. This is, in fact, the primary reason why this place is considered a safe jurisdiction. ExpressVPN has 1 server in Pakistan that will give you access to Pakistani News and Sports websites.
Since Pakistani ISP have to store records of users by law, using ExpressVPN will allow you to divert your traffic away from your ISP to the VPN’s data centers, where none of your logs will be retained.
Even though it is a bit expensive available at $8.32/mo, it is the fastest and most secure. The 3,000+ server size of ExpressVPN in over 94 countries is more than adequate in granting users access to blocked sites, including popular torrent sites that are blocked outside of Pakistan.
These features are enough to win ExpressVPN the accolade of best VPN Pakistan. To know more about this service, please look at our ExpressVPN review.
CyberGhost is located in Romania that doesn’t fall under the EU or 14 eyes intelligence sharing country. So, it means you’re good to use this VPN.
The 3,200+ server network of CyberGhost is present in all key countries of the world that support online freedom. This is great for users in Pakistan as they can use the internet with some freedom. To access websites in Pakistani websites from outside, CyberGhost has 10 servers in the country that will help you watch local TV shows and drama.
Ivacy is headquartered in Singapore, which is probably one of the safest locations in the world if it’s online privacy that you are after.
This VPN service strictly follows zero-logging policy like the providers above and doesn’t retain any information if you download torrent or access any blocked website in Pakistan.
This is what makes Ivacy a good choice for users seeking to boost their privacy and keep Pakistani surveillance at bay. Ivacy has a good number of servers i.e. 1,000. But in Pakistan, it offers only 1 server which is enough to unblock Pakistani news channel websites or to stream any Pakistani TV.
5. Hide My Ass
Hide My Ass (HMA) is based in the United Kingdom, which isn’t a very safe jurisdiction as our article on 5, 9, and 14 Eyes discusses in detail but the logging policy of HMA make things clear.
It doesn’t store your logs so even if the US authorities does get hold of users’ data, it would find nothing but the bandwidth and session time.
The 1,000+ servers spread over 190+ countries bypass all forms of censorship that prevent users in Pakistan from accessing websites and services. It has 2 servers in Pakistan and offers 6 Pakistani IP address to access websites that are blocked in Pakistan.
Hide My Ass uses leak protection to prevent your VPN IP or DNS from leaking out of the tunnel. The price is a bit expensive and is available for $4.29/mo with 30-days money-back guarantee.
To read further about this service, please read our HideMyAss review.
Online Censorship and Surveillance in Pakistan
Pakistan is a country with strong cultural and traditional sensibilities. A conservative socio-cultural outlook runs deep in Pakistan, the criticism of which has often led people to trouble.
For instance, blasphemy against Islamic beliefs is a crime punishable by death in the country and the legal process for blasphemy-related doesn’t even require evidence for the act. The testimonies of witnesses is usually enough to pass a sentence.
Blasphemous content on Facebook and YouTube have led to state-wide bans in Pakistan in the past. In fact, YouTube was inaccessible without a VPN in the country for 3 years when a video was posted on YouTube which upset the religious sentiment of Muslims in Pakistan.
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill gave sweeping powers to the LEAs and the government to curb criticism. In fact, the bill requires all ISPs in the country to retain user traffic data for a minimum of 1 year.
Surveillance and controls on free speech have also led journalists and bloggers to exercise self-censorship in response to harassment and intimidation from state actors.
Over 50% of Pakistani journalists believe that digital surveillance has enabled intimidation and even life threats to their sources.
The reasons, therefore, of seeking a VPN Pakistan to enhance privacy and anonymity are manifold for citizens, expats, as well as travelers to Pakistan.
The right VPN will mask your IP address, keep no logs of your data, and allow you to unblock censored websites and content with perfect anonymity.
Free VPN Services to Use in Pakistan
There are a lot of free VPN services that you can find in the market. But the problem with free services is that you can never before be sure that it is legitimate and not surreptitiously harvesting your private data behind your back.
Here are some free VPNs that I recommend my users that doesn’t store your data:
A study found that many free providers of VPNs had serious vulnerabilities, injected malware, and were gathering user data. For this reason, it is hard to trust free providers, especially when you’re in Pakistan with a dangerous online environment.
The legal status of VPNs in Pakistan
The legality of VPNs in Pakistan has remained a gray area for some time now. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no specific law that prohibits the use of VPNs in the country.
Nonetheless, this didn’t stop Pakistani authorities from banning the use of VPNs back in 2011. In spite of this, most VPN services remain operational in the country and there has never been a legal case against the use or download of top VPNs in the country.
Therefore, it is safe to use VPN services in Pakistan and strictly speaking, it is not illegal.
Countries with Restrictions
Here is a list of alternatives of other countries which have restrictions in place:
Yes, it is legal to use a VPN in Pakistan only if it is used for legal activities. For example, using a VPN service for business purposes is legal but for torrent downloading or even accessing pornographic websites and sharing its content is illegal.
To get a Pakistan IP address from abroad, you need to follow certain steps:
- Subscribe to CyberGhost (It has 10 servers in Pakistan)
- Download and Install the app on your device
- Connect to a Pakistan server
- Access Pakistani TV and start streaming
The only content that is censored in Pakistan are pornographic websites and blasphemous content. Websites hosting these types of content are considered illegal.
The internet suffers from significant censorship and threatens the online privacy of users in Pakistan on a regular basis.
This is why the need for using a VPN for Pakistan is high in the country, especially if you happen to be a blogger or journalist.
Don’t let the government restrain your right to speak your mind freely on the web.