KARACHI: On Tuesday, the Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz said the government could suspend internet service in case of security issues during the general elections (on Thursday). Mr Gohar added that internet suspension would be considered if a district or province submits a request after viewing the security conditions.
While addressing a press conference alongside Information Minister Murtaza Solangi in Islamabad, Ejaz Gohar clarified that the caretaker government has not decided to suspend internet service on polling day. He said the government would inspect nature of threats before making any decision.
Earlier, Murtaza Solangi assured undisrupted internet services on the polling day. However, the Caretaker Information Minister of Balochistan, Jan Achakzai, had announced a temporary restriction of the internet service in the sensitive polling booths across the province.
Regarding the concerns about using the new Election Management System (EMS), the Election Commission of Pakistan briefed that the system would work offline and any Internet service disruption would not affect the polling process.
Amnesty International Calls for Uninterrupted Internet Access
Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights, has called on the Pakistani authorities to ensure no disruption in internet services.
The organisation forwarded an open letter to urge the authorities to guarantee uninterrupted internet & digital communication access throughout the polling process.
In an open letter by Amnesty International, the members of the #KeepItOn coalition requested Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar & Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to ensure that the people of Pakistan have unfettered access to the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels on February 8, 2024. It added that such a step would contribute to an inclusive, free, and fair election process.
#KeepItOn is a global network working to end internet shutdowns. Over 300 organisations from 105 countries are part of the movement.