Pakistan on Thursday suspended mobile phone services across the country in the run-up to Election Day, with the interior ministry citing the need to “maintain law and order”.
“We have decided to temporarily suspend mobile phone services nationwide,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
“Precious lives have been lost” in recent militant attacks in Pakistan, the spokesperson said, adding that “security measures are essential to maintain the law and order situation and deal with potential threats.” ” he said.
AFP journalists in the capital Islamabad were unable to access mobile internet services as voting began at 8am local time (3am GMT), although there were also reports of poor access in the southern city of Karachi. .
At least 30 people were killed in two explosions near election offices in the southwestern province of Balochistan on Wednesday.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the explosion in a message on its Telegram channel. Several other groups, including the Islamist Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and separatist Baloch militants, also oppose the Pakistani state and have carried out attacks in recent months.
The country is on high alert, with tens of thousands of military and militia personnel on duty at polling stations and elsewhere. Pakistan also announced that it would close its borders with Iran and Afghanistan on this day to ensure security.