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He tried his best lines to charm her and they worked. It was at this time that she came to the United States. But it was too late. She was already falling for Saks; soon enough, the two were making plans to see each other again. The date went so well that he postponed his flight for a week later; the two met every day while he was in Redwood City. There was no turning back; hereon their relationship went from strength to strength.

About me

This article is the latest in our ongoing series about technology bans in Pakistan. I was sitting in the back of my car in Karachi, the midafternoon sun high in the sky.

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We paused at a traffic light, and I switched my phone to airplane mode. I had been chatting with a guy who seemed promising, so I tried Tinder again.

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I mindlessly opened Instagram; the posts were crisp and clear. Some part of my brain was already aware of what had happened, but I tried again.

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Finally, I opened Twitter and went immediately to the search tab. Tinder Pakistan banI typed. They had all been banned.

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Inthe government blocked YouTube for hosting a film that mocked the Prophet Muhammed, a ban that lasted four years. It meant that while everyone stateside was posting videos of goats screaming over Taylor Swift lyricsI was trying to find a reliable VPN to in on the joke.

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In practice, this meant that any media with even the potential for immorality, often reported by users themselves, could be banned. After international outcrythe government suspended them, but it had made its agenda clear: All apps needed to comply or get out. In the past few months, the PTA has gone from trying to protect tender eyes to intervening in what young people are doing in their free time.

First it banned a popular RPG game, then the livestreaming app Bigo. Then, it blocked Tinder, Grindr, and other dating apps.

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A few weeks later, TikTok would be on the chopping block. I worried about what all of the bans meant for my civil liberties, but I also worried about what they meant for my fledgling dating life. I left Pakistan for the U. Almost everyone I know has been friends since high school. Without the usual opportunities for meeting people I had in the U.

When it came to dating, I had no idea how to even start. In the U. I would know immediately if something was a hang or a date based on small physical tells, like the graze of an arm, a lingering touch on the knee.

I tried to filter him out

Even couples rarely hold hands out of the house. This is all to say: Tinder was a lifeline for me. Unlike the ambiguous and guarded interactions I had in my limited social life, the premise of the app meant that I could boldly state what I was doing with my dates before we met up: assessing our sexual compatibility. Tinder in Pakistan also allowed me to broach subjects that are off limits IRL.

If I agreed with their take, I could guess what I was in for.

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Of course, there was still the odd mismatch — unsolicited dick pics, aggressive messages, and misogyny exist in Pakistan too — but the app often felt like my only option for meeting new people. Once I began dabbling in the world of Tinder in Pakistan, I remembered that much of dating has to do with a combination of alchemy and chance, and Tinder improved my chances in a big way. I had a spectacular evening at a Karachi restaurant, where string lights twinkled in the background.

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My food was amazing, but his was not. At one point, he reached over and started eating off my plate, a move that could have been presumptuous and annoying but felt right in the moment.

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We met again, this time during the day for coffee, with similar chemistry. And then he received a job offer in a different country.

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I was disappointed, but I also had a clear takeaway: I should go on more dates. I liked to keep my Tinder matches in the liminal space of the app until I had met up with them in person, only committing them to the reality of a saved contact afterward.

Hija Kamran, Programs Manager at Media Matters for Democracy, a nonprofit that defends freedom of expression in Pakistan, told me that for every PTA block, Pakistanis tend to find ten backdoor ways around it.

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Four days after our conversation, the PTA announced it had lifted the ban on TikTokbut only after the app agreed to stringently monitor the supposedly immoral s. Kamran pointed out that an app like Tinder could shock average Pakistanis with relatively low digital literacy.

More than just a dating app

Women who shared their phone s might have called the PTA to complain about harassment; men might have called to complain about the images of women they were seeing on the app. I think about that magical first date I went on, about all the things that snapped into place that night, and about how rare that is to find even without the watchful gaze of a government authority. Learn More About us Work with us Team news.

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Minet Kim for Rest of World. By Mariya Karimjee. More than just a dating app Share this story.

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After international outcrythe government suspended them, but it had made its agenda clear: All apps needed to comply or get out In the past few months, the PTA has gone from trying to protect tender eyes to intervening in what young people are doing in their free time.