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Mobile Internet Suspended During Controversial 2024 Pakistan Elections

Pakistan has implemented a suspension of mobile calls and data services as citizens flock to the polls to cast their votes in the latest government elections.

An interior ministry spokesperson justified the measure, citing recent terrorist incidents within the country. The election marks nearly two years since the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was removed from office in a no-confidence vote. Now, Nawaz Sharif, who has served as Prime Minister three times, is a prominent candidate in what analysts consider Pakistan’s least credible election to date. Imran Khan, facing corruption charges, remains ineligible to run for office.

Pakistan election: Mobile internet cut as controversial polls held

While mobile calls and data services are suspended, WiFi networks continue to function. Responding to the decision, some voters expressed shock and frustration, stating that such obstacles hinder the voting process rather than facilitate it. Many residents of Lahore reported difficulties in booking taxis and coordinating with family members due to the internet blackout.

The Interior Ministry defended the move, emphasizing the necessity of security measures following recent terrorist attacks that resulted in loss of life, including two bomb blasts in Balochistan province that claimed 28 lives. However, the shutdown drew criticism from Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, son of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who demanded an immediate restoration of services. His Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) petitioned the election commission and courts to reverse the shutdown.

Amid heightened security nationwide, polling stations are heavily guarded, with armed personnel and army officers deployed to ensure safety. Border crossings with Afghanistan and Iran have been closed to both cargo and pedestrians as part of security measures during the election.

While Pakistan has previously restricted internet services to control information flow, the extent of this shutdown during an election is unprecedented.

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