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Sunday May 19, 2024

By-polls: Cellular services to remain suspended in parts of Punjab, Balochistan

PTA says this decision has been taken to safeguard "integrity and security" of electoral process

By Web Desk
April 20, 2024
A representational image of a mobile phone with no network. — AFP/File
A representational image of a mobile phone with no network. — AFP/File

The federal government has decided to temporarily suspend cellular services in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan during the by-elections on April 21-22.

In a statement, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that in line with the directions of the Ministry of Interior, cellular services will be temporarily suspended in certain districts of the two provinces for two days.

“This decision has been taken to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process,” the PTA said.

Earlier in the day, Punjab requested the federal government to suspend mobile internet services in the province's 13 districts and tehsils on April 21 (tomorrow).

The request has been made to maintain law and order situation in the province and avoid any untoward incident.

In a letter to the interior ministry, the provincial home department requested the suspension, as by-elections are scheduled on nearly two dozen National and provincial assembly constituencies tomorrow.

According to the letter, the request for the suspension of mobile internet services has been made for Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts.

Meanwhile, the tehsils where suspension is requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujarat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal and Bhakkar.

By-polls on 21 seats

In the first major by-poll exercise after the Feb 8 elections, by-polls will be held on 21 National Assembly and provincial assembly seats.

These include five NA seats; 12 Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies.

In Punjab, NA-132 (Kasur) and NA-119 (Lahore) — vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz — will see candidates up against each other on Sunday.

PM Shehbaz also gave up two of his provincial assembly seats in Lahore, PP-158 and PP-164, retaining his NA-123 seat in the National Assembly.

In Sindh, NA-196 (Qamber Shadadkot) will see a by-poll after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari vacated the seat.

In KP, the NA-44 (Dera Ismail Khan) seat was left vacant after provincial Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur retained his provincial assembly seat, PK-113, while by-polls will also be conducted in the NA-8 (Bajaur) constituency, which was left vacant after one of its candidates — Rehan Zeb Khan — was murdered ahead of the February 8 general elections.