Govt remains undecided on internet shutdown during election day

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, speaking on Tuesday, clarified that no directives have been issued yet regarding the suspension of mobile and internet services on the upcoming election day. Underlining the gravity of security concerns, Solangi emphasized that local administrations hold the authority to evaluate security situations and make necessary decisions, particularly in areas experiencing heightened security risks.

Highlighting the government’s efforts to assist journalists and observers, Solangi mentioned the establishment of an online helpline for media professionals and observers. He acknowledged the challenges posed by fake news and propaganda on social media platforms but affirmed that the current circumstances do not necessitate extraordinary measures.

Caretaker Interior Minister Gauhar Ejaz echoed Solangi’s sentiments, urging the nation to vote honestly on February 8. He emphasized the significant role of the media, trusted by millions, and assured that efforts had been made to ensure timely elections. Ejaz stated that any decision to suspend internet services would only be taken upon request from a province or district.

Addressing concerns over security, Ejaz outlined the deployment of security personnel at polling stations, with CCTV cameras installed at sensitive locations. He assured the deployment of federal and provincial security personnel to ensure a peaceful electoral process.

The government’s stance on internet shutdown remains ambiguous, with Interior Minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz indicating that a decision would be made based on security requests from districts or provinces. While caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai announced temporary restrictions on internet services in sensitive polling booths in Balochistan, no definitive decision has been reached nationwide.

Ejaz reiterated the government’s commitment to security, stating that multiple layers of security measures were in place across the country, with special attention to sensitive areas. He emphasized the duty to protect citizens’ lives and encouraged participation in the electoral process, particularly in regions affected by terrorism.

As the nation prepares for the upcoming elections, the government aims to balance security concerns with the need for a transparent and democratic process, keeping the citizens’ interests at the forefront of decision-making.

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