Mobile Internet Suspended Amid Controversial Pakistan Polls

As millions participate in the voting process, Pakistan has taken the step of suspending mobile calls and data services, causing communication disruptions.

Citing recent terror incidents, an interior ministry spokesman defended the suspension of mobile calls and data services during the election. This electoral event follows the no-confidence vote that removed the former prime minister, Imran Khan, nearly two years ago.

In what many analysts consider Pakistan’s least credible election, three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now on the ballot. Imran Khan, imprisoned on corruption charges last year, is ineligible to stand.

Although both calls and data services are suspended, wifi networks are still functioning. A voter expressed shock at the decision, emphasizing that voters should be assisted instead of facing such obstacles. Someone mentioned they were anticipating a broad shutdown.

In Lahore, numerous voters relayed to reporters that the internet blackout made it impossible to book taxis for voting, and some faced difficulties coordinating with family members on the optimal time to head to polling stations.

Read Also: Pakistan: Khan, Party Excluded From Election Campaign

Justifying the move, an Interior Ministry spokesman said: “As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country, precious lives have been lost. Security measures are essential to maintain law and order situation and to deal with potential threats.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, son of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, condemned the shutdown and called for the prompt restoration of services. Mr. Bhutto, also a candidate for the top position, stated that his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had engaged with the election commission and the courts to pursue the restoration of services.

Pakistan is under heightened vigilance, with a substantial security deployment at polling stations nationwide. During a visit to a station in Lahore, it was observed armed guards at the entrance and army officers patrolling the area.

To “ensure full security” during polling, Pakistan has shut down border crossings with Afghanistan and Iran for both cargo and pedestrians, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the country’s foreign ministry.

Past instances have seen the country limit internet services to manage information flow, but a shutdown of this scale, especially during an election, is unprecedented.

Africa Today News, New York 

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