The internet services in the country could possibly be suspended on the polling day tomorrow (Thursday, February 8) in view of security threats, according to the government.
The statement was made Tuesday at a press conference by caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz. The presser, held in Islamabad, was also attended by caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.
“There has been no decision in this regard so far,” the caretaker minister said in response to a question from a reporter about the status of communication services on the polling day.
“If such a request is received from a province or a district, the nature of the threat will be assessed accordingly.”
If a terrorist activity is taking place in that area, would you not want us to cut off their communication, remarked the minister, adding that terrorists usually communicate through WhatsApp.
Caretaker Minister for Information
Murtaza Solangi Addressing a News Conference | 06 02 2024https://t.co/qIrz6Zj7OT
— Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (@MoIB_Official) February 6, 2024
The government will take every measure to ensure the elections are conducted peacefully, Ejaz said.
The statement arrives just days after Jan Achakzai, the information minister for Balochistan, announced the internet will be suspended temporarily in the polling booths that are facing security threats in different parts of the province on the election day.
The interior minister’s statement has elicited a strong response from human and digital rights organisations, including the Amnesty International. The organisation released a statement calling for an uninterrupted access throughout the polls to ensure free expression and access to information.
🇵🇰PAKISTAN: Amnesty International, along with several other human rights organizations, call on Pakistani authorities to guarantee uninterrupted access to the internet and digital communication platforms for everyone across the country.
In light of the statement by caretaker…
— Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office (@amnestysasia) February 6, 2024
The Sindh High Court (SHC), too, on Tuesday directed the relevant authorities to ensure that connectivity services remain intact and fully accessible throughout the province.