Pakistan has recently become an active tourist destination. 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
NordVPN – Large server network (5,600 servers) that let you connect anywhere
CyberGhost – Easy to use and offers 45-days money-back guarantee
IPVanish – Access streaming websites with over 1,300 servers
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.
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.
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 in Pakistan.
These features are enough to win ExpressVPN the accolade of best VPN Pakistan.
NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, 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 that could be used to encroach user privacy.
This is what makes NordVPN a good choice for users seeking to boost their privacy and keep Pakistani surveillance at bay.
NordVPN has the largest number of servers in the VPN industry, reaching upwards of 5,600 servers. It is also affordable available at $3.49/mo.
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.
It is not expensive at all. It is available only for $2.75/mo with 45-days money-back guarantee.
IPVanish is based in the United States, which isn’t a very safe jurisdiction as our article on 5, 9, and 14 Eyes discusses in detail.
But the logging policy of IPVanish 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 1,300+ servers spread over 75+ locations bypass all forms of censorship that prevent users in Pakistan from accessing websites and services.
IPVanish 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 $6.67/mo with only 7-days money-back guarantee.
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 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:
- Hotspot Shield
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 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:
- Best VPN for China 2019
- Best VPN for Australia 2019
- Best VPN for Japan 2019
- Best VPN for Iran 2019
- Best VPN for Canada 2019
- Best VPN for South Africa 2019
- Best VPN for Indonesia 2019.
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.