Earlier, caretaker Baluchistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai announced that the internet service will remain temporarily restricted in the sensitive polling booths in the province on election day….reports Asian Lite News
Pakistan Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz on Tuesday said that the government is considering to suspend the internet services on February 8 only if it gets a request from a district or province in view of the security situation, media reports said.
“So far, there has been no decision made regarding the suspension of internet services at any place,” said the minister during a presser in Islamabad alongside caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.
A day earlier, Solangi turned down the possibility of an internet shutdown on February 8, saying that local administrations have the authority to decide on an internet shutdown in light of the law and order situation.
However, he stressed that no such situation has so far been reported, Geo News reported.
On Sunday, caretaker Baluchistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai announced that the internet service will remain temporarily restricted in the sensitive polling booths in the province on election day.
Ejaz, while talking about the law and order situation today, said that the government was making efforts to hold peaceful elections without any loss of lives.
The Interior Minister said that the government will provide security in three layers. “The commandos will be deployed in Baluchistan to respond in the shortest possible time,” he said, Geo News reported.
Amnesty urges uninterrupted internet access
Human rights group Amnesty International has written an open letter urging Pakistan authorities to guarantee uninterrupted internet access for everyone throughout the polling process, Dawn reported.
The international NGO said: “We, the undersigned organisations and members of the #KeepItOn coalition — a global network of over 300 organisations from 105 countries working to end internet shutdowns — appeal to you, Prime Minister Mr Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, to publicly commit to ensuring that the people of Pakistan have unfettered access to the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels throughout the upcoming general election on February 8, 2024.”
Amnesty International noted that as the people of Pakistan prepare to vote, authorities must adopt and prioritise measures that advance human rights by enabling unrestricted access to information and avenues for freedom of expression, assembly, and association–both offline and online.
“This will also contribute to an inclusive, free, and fair election process,” the organisation said, as per Dawn.
The concern from Amnesty comes after caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz on Tuesday hinted at the possible suspension of the internet service in case of security issues in any area on the election day.
The minister said the government would consider suspending the internet service on February 8 only if it receives a request from a district or province in view of the security situation.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has deplored the acts of violence against political parties and candidates in Pakistan ahead of the general elections on February 8 and has urged the authorities to ensure “free and fair” elections.
It has also raised concerns about the plethora of cases against former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his disqualification, as well as the representation of women and minorities in the polls.
“Ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary election in Pakistan, we deplore all acts of violence against political parties and candidates, and urge the authorities to uphold the fundamental freedoms necessary for an inclusive and meaningful democratic process,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Liz Throssell said in a press briefing. (ANI)
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