On Tuesday, Pakistan’s interim Interior Minister, Dr. Gohar Ejaz, stated that the caretaker government would consider internet shutdowns on election day, February 8. However, he emphasized that such a decision would only be made if a district or province formally requested it due to security concerns.
Ejaz made it clear that no decision about internet suspensions had been made at any location as of yet during a press conference with acting Information Minister Murtaza Solangi. On February 8, Solangi had earlier ruled out the prospect of an internet shutdown, claiming that local authorities could impose such measures in accordance with the conditions of law and order. He made it clear, though, that no such circumstance had occurred before.
The interim Information Minister of Balochistan, Jan Achakzai, made an announcement on Sunday about plans to temporarily impose internet restrictions at strategic polling places in the province ahead of the upcoming election. Amidst a discourse regarding the security situation, Ejaz underscored the government’s resolve to guarantee nonviolent elections devoid of fatalities.
However, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed that the internet will not be shut down on election day, as a PTA official said while talking to the Business Recorder.
In a separate development, John Achakzai announced the suspension of internet services around key polling stations in Balochistan for the general elections on 8 February 2024. This decision was taken in response to the terror alert and as a precautionary measure. The suspension will primarily affect Turbat, Mach, Chaman and other areas of the province.
Achakzai explained that the caretaker government’s priority was to safeguard the well-being of civilians, expressing concerns that terrorists could exploit social media platforms to incite violence during the elections. Preemptive measures have been taken, including limitations on public gatherings and election-related meetings.
Murtaza Solangi, Pakistan’s acting minister of information, reassured the populace that there would be no disruption of internet or mobile services on election day. He urged people to responsibly use their democratic right to vote, stressing its significance as a sign of commitment to the nation’s democratic future and patriotism.
According to Solangi, the caretaker administration is dedicated to giving all political parties equal opportunities and guaranteeing fair competition in the election arena. In addition, he emphasized the function of the official media in giving all parties thorough coverage and emphasized the significance of accountability and openness in the electoral process.
As the nation prepares for the upcoming polls, Solangi’s assurance regarding uninterrupted communication services underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring a free and fair electoral process, allowing citizens to exercise their democratic rights without hindrance.