Pakistan considering shutting down internet during elections
Pakistan’s interim Home Minister Dr. Gohar Ijaz has said that the caretaker government in Pakistan will consider shutting down the internet connection on the day of voting on February 8 only when a request in this regard comes from any district or province. He said that no decision has been taken yet regarding suspension of internet services at any place, a Pakistani newspaper reported. Will consider shutting down the internet connection only if requested by the caretaker government. Ijaz’s announcement is important because a day earlier, Information Minister Murtaza Solangi had rejected the possibility of shutting down the internet on February 8.
Solangi had said that the local administration has the right to take the decision to shut down the internet in view of the law and order situation. However, no such situation has emerged so far. Earlier, acting Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai had announced that internet service will be temporarily restricted at sensitive polling stations in the province on the day of voting.
Talking about the law and order situation, Ijaz said that the government is trying to conduct peaceful elections without any loss of life. The newspaper quoted Ijaz as saying that the election atmosphere in Sindh is full of enthusiasm and it does not seem that any political party has enmity with any other. He said that he did not see any tension among the candidates in Balochistan during his visit.
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Government will provide security in three layers
The Home Minister said the government will provide security in three layers – police, civilian armed forces and army. He said that commandos will be deployed in Balochistan to respond in the shortest possible time. Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court (SHC) upheld its order, under which it had directed officials to provide uninterrupted internet service, including mobile internet service, across the country till the February 8 elections, the news agency reported.
Sindh High Court instructions
On January 24, the Sindh High Court had directed the concerned authorities to ensure unhindered access to internet services for all citizens till the February 8 elections. During the hearing of a case, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Akil Ahmed Abbasi expressed disappointment over the suspension of internet services, saying how will the internet work elsewhere when it is not working even for them (judges). He commented that it looks like the internet will work properly after the elections.
The High Court adjourned the hearing till February 21 as the counsel for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) did not appear in the court. Advocate Gibran Nasir, an independent candidate and rights activist, had filed a petition in the Sindh High Court against the continuous suspension of internet services in the country ahead of the general elections.