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Pakistan to consider shutting down internet if requested by any district or province on polling day: Interior minister |


ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government in Pakistan will consider shutting down the internet connections on the polling day on Thursday only if there is a request from a district or a province, interim Interior Minister Dr Gohar Ejaz said on Tuesday. “So far, there has been no decision made regarding the suspension of internet services at any place. The caretaker government will consider shutting down the internet connections only if there is a request,” The News International newspaper reported, quoting him as saying.
Ejaz was addressing a press conference along with the caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.
Ejaz’s announcement is important as just a day earlier, Solangi had turned down the possibility of an internet shutdown on February 8.
“Local administrations have the authority to decide on an internet shutdown in light of the law and order situation, however, no such situation has so far been reported,” Solangi had said on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday, caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai had announced that the internet service will remain temporarily restricted in the sensitive polling booths in the province on the polling day.
Ejaz, while talking about the law and order situation on Tuesday, said that the government was making efforts to hold peaceful elections without any loss of lives.
“The election atmosphere in Sindh is full of excitement and it does not seem that any political party has enmity with another,” the newspaper quoted Ejaz as saying, and added that he did not see any tension between the candidates in Balochistan during his visit.
The interior minister said that the government will provide security in three layers – police, civil armed forces, and the army. “The commandos will be deployed in Balochistan to respond in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday upheld its stay order under which it had directed the authorities to provide uninterrupted internet service including mobile internet service across the country till the February 8 elections, Geo News reported.
On January 24, the SHC directed the authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted access to internet services to all citizens till the February 8 elections.
During the hearing of a case today, SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi expressed dismay over the suspension of internet services, saying: “How would the internet work anywhere else when it’s not even working for them [judges].”
“He remarked that it seemed as if the internet would function properly after the elections,” Geo News added.
The high court adjourned the hearing till February 21 as the lawyer for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) failed to appear before the court.
An independent candidate and rights activist Advocate Jibran Nasir had filed the petition in the SHC against the frequent suspension of internet services in the country ahead of the general elections.

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