Islamabad, Feb 8 (PTI) A day after the terrorist attacks that killed at least 30 people, mobile phone services in Pakistan have been suspended due to “deteriorating security situation,” the interim government says during a referendum to elect a new government. announced on Thursday. people.
The Ministry of Interior announced that it had decided to “temporarily suspend mobile services nationwide” in view of the “deteriorating security situation.”
“The recent surge in terrorist activities claiming precious lives has disrupted the domestic security environment,” the ministry said in a statement.
Therefore, it added, “there is a need to take defensive measures” against security threats.
Meanwhile, voters across Pakistan began voting Thursday in a general election to elect a new government to rule the cash-strapped country.
Voting begins at 8 a.m. and continues without a break until 5 p.m. A national holiday was declared to allow a total of 128,585,760 registered voters to cast their votes.
According to a report in ARY News, mobile phone services have been suspended across the country and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) 8300 SMS service has also been affected.
According to reports, telephone services have been affected in some cities, including Karachi and Peshawar.
Commenting on the suspension of internet and mobile phone services, Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said the ECP would not request the ministry to restore the services.
Mr. Raja on Wednesday met chief secretaries and Inspector General of Police (IGPs) of four states and directed them to remain on high alert to ensure the safety of voters.
This comes after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced on Wednesday night that internet services would continue to function on Thursday.
The PTA said in a statement that it had not yet received any instructions from the government to shut down the internet and that services would continue to function without interruption on Thursday.
Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz indicated on Tuesday that internet services could be suspended if a security issue occurs in any region on election day.
With recent terrorist attacks plaguing the country and claiming many lives, the government has temporarily suspended mobile services across the country as a precautionary measure to maintain peace and order amid potential threats.
The decision to suspend mobile services was announced by the Ministry of Interior on Thursday, underscoring the gravity of the situation and the need for strict safety measures.
“This measure is aimed at disrupting potential communication channels used by terrorist elements, thereby supporting law enforcement efforts to thwart planned attacks and protect innocent lives.” TV quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying.
Many non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, called for uninterrupted internet access across the country during the voting period.
In an open letter, Amnesty International called on authorities to ensure that all citizens across Pakistan have uninterrupted access to the internet and digital communication platforms during the voting period.
“We, the undersigned organizations and members of the #KeepItOn coalition (a global network of over 300 organizations in 105 countries working to end internet shutdowns), join Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar and Sikandar We appeal to the Chief Election Commissioner Sultan Raja to publicly commit to ensuring that Pakistanis have free access to the internet, social media platforms and all other communication channels during the general elections on February 8, 2024. ” said the London-based NGO.
The report said that as people prepare to vote, authorities are making efforts to ensure unrestricted access to information and the means for freedom of expression, assembly and association both offline and online. They pointed out that measures must be adopted and prioritized to move forward.
In a related development, the Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the relevant federal authorities to ensure provision of smooth and uninterrupted internet services and access to social media platforms unless relevant laws are invoked by February 21. I was instructed again to do so.