Zia Ullah Bangash’s potential departure from an important role in facilitating Pakistan’s regulatory environment for crypto had many threatening to withhold votes and demanding answers.
Many users on social media have started an online campaign for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring back pro-crypto adviser Zia Ullah Bangash.
On Saturday, Bangash, the science, technology, and information technology adviser to Mahmood Khan, the chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, announced he would resign his position. Bangash cited “unavoidable circumstances” in his decision to leave his advisory role in addition to responsibilities in his constituency — he previously served as a member of the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or KP. Khan reportedly has not yet officially accepted his resignation.
The sudden departure of a figure many crypto users in Pakistan seemingly considered a proponent for blockchain and digital currency projects prompted a swift backlash from Twitter users. Within hours of Bangash’s announcement, many had gotten the hashtag “WeWantZiaBangashBack” trending in the country with more than 23,900 tweets. Some threatened to withhold votes from PM Imran Khan in the next election, expected in 2023.
“He is the only one in politics who understands the crypto and technology,” said Asad Shah, tagging the PM’s Twitter account.
“[Zia Bangash was the] only person who helped getting [sic] crypto back to our country,” said Yasen Ali. “We want Zia Bangash back. @ImranKhanPTI Bring him or we won’t vote you next time.”
Others speculated on the reasons for the sudden resignation, with many alleging local mafia groups may have pressured Bangash to leave in an attempt to stymie the country promoting innovative technology. Among them was crypto advocate and influencer Waqar Zaka, who previously helped set up a federal committee to create cryptocurrency policy in the region.
“The person who got crypto in [KP] and working [sic] hard to get Facebook Monetization on in PAK, resigned, do you know why?” said Zaka. “Cuz there are stupids in Govt who don’t want to do anything and will stop anyone like Zia too. We want him back @ImranKhanPTI.”
Person who worked hard for crypto mining and facebook Monetization is out , @ImranKhanPTI why ? Anyone working for IT industry is taken down by mafia #WeWantZiaBangashBack
— Waqar Zaka (@ZakaWaqar) April 18, 2021
As a technology adviser and crypto advocate, Bangash regularly tweeted about government actions in Pakistan that could potentially affect the regulatory environment for crypto. One of his last posts before announcing his resignation was on State Bank of Pakistan governor Reza Baqir saying on CNN the country was carefully studying the issuance of central bank digital currencies. In addition, he reported on the efforts of KP province to “take action to legalize cryptocurrency and crypto mining in Pakistan.”
“For nation progress, Pakistan needs digital revolution, and digital revolution needs @ZiaBangashPTI,” said Mohammad Khan, who claimed to be a member of the social media team behind the country’s centrist political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, of which both Bangash and the PM are members. “@ImranKhanPTI @IMMahmoodKhan keep politics aside, don’t shatter our dreams and let Pakistan grow.”