Today, on the 8th of February, it is election day in Pakistan, the general elections for its National Assembly and provincial assemblies. However, the internet shutdown in Pakistan has undergone temporarily, as well as its mobile phone network on this specific day. This decision is made in response to potential security threats and aims to address concerns related to transparency during the election process.
But did Pakistan, do it?
Eventually, the internet shutdown in Pakistan and mobile networks ultimately have been disrupted today, and the fact that the news is going live about its people voting and undergoing the process of their rights. That’s what they want the public to know? But what actually happened was the following:
“The disruptions came after two separate bomb blasts outside campaign offices in southwestern Baluchistan province on Wednesday killed 30 people, with the Islamic State militant group claiming the bombings,” stated South & Central Asia.
What ‘A’ timing?
Especially after two bomb blasts that targeted election offices, said Caretaker government, this decision was taken for security reasons.
So, such a move has offended the concept of freedom of speech and especially in the most sensitive period the country is passing through, and that the next five years will change the fate of Pakistan and its nation. On the other hand, free speech advocates are against this move, since they say that access to information must be maintained, mainly during elections, since this seems to be against the democratic rights of Pakistanis. It also affected the media to do their job.
Nighat Dad, a lawyer who runs the not-for-profit organisation Digital Rights Foundation, said the outage “is an attack on the democratic rights of Pakistanis”.
What Consequences Does It Retain?
Such a move explains a lot about the Pakistani government and its people; the shutdown may have practical implications for the elections. Transparency, accountability and sharing information are the impacted aspects. Media and independent observers depend on such services to monitor the election and to report on any issue or illegal susceptions. On top of that, voters will be discouraged from participating, especially that they rely on online information and/ or digital tools, creating hurdles for them to seek information about polling stations or procedures, and at last, not forgetting that it hinders the accessibility for voters with disabilities, since they navigate using digital tools, thus needing an internet connection.
However, there are controversial positive accusations about the move to shut down mobile networks and internet services, which is for security reasons to prevent coordination of violence, misinformation, and hate speech.
Nighat Dad added that “Shutting down mobile phone services is not a solution to national security concerns. If you shut down access to information you create more chaos. How do you call (anyone) if, God forbid, there is an attack?”
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