No guidelines to shut down internet on election day: Solangi

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi on Monday said that the government had not issued any guideline to shut down internet and mobile signals on the day of general election.
Speaking in a private news channel programme, the minister said that the local administrations had the authority to decide about shutting down internet in a specific area if it faced any law and order issue.
He said there was no doubt that an extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures, however, so far no such a situation had been reported in any area.
Highlighting the government’s measures to curb fake news and propaganda on social media, the minister said the relevant institutions had been issuing clarification to rebut any such news circulating in different media.
“Security is a serious issue,” he said, while pointing out a steep rise in activities of different terrorist groups in the country, especially after the establishment an interim government in Kabul.
“Last year alone, around 1,500 incidents of terrorism were reported in the country,” Murtaza Solangi noted.
Police cops were martyred in a terrorist attack on a police station in the Dera Ismail Khan, he said, adding such acts had failed to affect the resolve of  law enforcement agencies fighting terrorism in the country.
He noted that recently, 24 terrorists were killed in Mach area of Balochistan.
The minister ruled out any delay in the elections which were scheduled for February 8. The history of Pakistan suggested that the elections were held in harsh and difficult conditions.
To a query, he said the Kashmir dispute was a long-standing issue on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.
He recalled that some 75 years ago, the then Indian prime minister promised in the United Nations Security Council that the Kashmiri people would be given their right to self-determination so that they could decide their own destiny.
“On August 5, 2019, India changed the status of Kashmir by taking unilateral and illegal actions,” he said while regretting that the Indian government deprived the Kashmiris of their rights by abolishing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
He said the government and the people of Pakistan would continue to extend their moral, legal and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir.
To another query, the minister clarified that the caretaker government had no favourites in the elections and the statement of the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman in that regard was “unfortunate”.
The minister reiterated that the caretaker government was ensuring a level-playing field for all the political parties and the state media was giving due coverage to all of them.
Solangi said all-out efforts were being made to ensure equal treatment to all the political parties, but ironically “complaining is part of Pakistan’s political culture”.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had complaints of an uneven playing field in Sindh, while the PPP in Punjab and Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said, adding that the matter of level-playing field was being politicized for political gains.
He believed that the people of Pakistan would come out on the election day in a large number to elect the parties of their choice.
To another query, he said there had been a significant increase in the number of registered voters for the general elections 2024. The number of women voters alone was increased by 2 million, he added.
The proportion of the submission and acceptance of nomination papers for the elections 2024 was higher than the previous ones, he noted.
A helpline, he said, had been established for quick redressal of the complaints of local and foreign journalists and observers.
The minister urged the citizens to express their love for the country by exercising their right to vote on the election day.
“It is clearly written in the preamble of the Constitution that the country will be run by its elected representatives,” he said while regretting a persistent propaganda about the election delay.
The caretaker government from the very beginning held a stance that the elections would be conducted on time, he added.
The minister said the caretaker government would stand dissolved following the election of the Leader of House in the National Assembly and oath-taking of the newly elected prime minister.
To another query, Solangi said the caretaker government would pass on a “handover note” to the next elected government about its achievements and failures.

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