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ECP rules out possibility of internet blackout on election day

Pakistan set to stage general elections on February 8 amid security challenges

By Web Desk
February 02, 2024
Representational image showing social media apps icons on a phones screen. — X/@AFP
Representational image showing social media apps icons on a phone's screen. — X/@AFP

ISLAMABAD: As the February 8 general elections draw close, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said it has no plans to suspend internet and communication services on the polls day as a security measure.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja ruled out any such possibility, saying that "no proposal for internet shutdown on election day is under consideration.

The statement came during a media talk after ECP's meeting on Thursday.

As the country undergoes a perilous situation after a recent spike in terrorist attacks, especially on political parties and their election rallies, recently, the top electoral body held a comprehensive meeting over the security arrangements and measures to tackle any untoward situation on the day of polls.

After the meeting, the commission expressed resolve and readiness to stage the polls on time, assuring the nation that the security situation was under its control in the presence of law enforcers and Pakistan Army personnel.

CEC Raja stated that all the necessary arrangements will be made to ensure peaceful conduct of elections on February 8, but dismissed any plans to cut off communications, which has been used as a safety measure.

"There shouldn't be a doubt about the conduct of polls on February 8," he stressed.

The election commissioner, while responding to a question, said that ECP's Election Management System (EMS) will work offline in case of any internet disruption.

Meanwhile, Sindh caretaker Information Minister Ahmed Shah said that there has been no decision on suspending the internet and communication services in the province on February 8.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Shah said that the caretaker government in the province is ready for the election.

Informing the media about security arrangements, the minister said that police and Rangers personnel would be deployed at all polling stations while army personnel would be deployed at sensitive polling stations.

He also warned of action against the government employees who skip their election duties.

With less than a week left in the February 8 polls, security across the country has been heightened with the deployment of law enforcers to ensure the law and order situation in the wake of national-level polls.

The election preparations and campaigns go on in full swing but the country is reeling from consecutive incidents of violence that resulted in multiple deaths, especially at political parties’ rallies in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, raising concerns regarding the security situation.

An independent and an Awami National Party candidate had been killed in separate gun attacks in Bajaur and Chaman, while several others were injured in separate blasts on Pakistan Peoples Party rallies in different cities of Balochistan.

A day earlier, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally also came under attack in Sibi.