LAHORE: During former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the 3rd Asma Jahangir Conference, all wires were cut at the marquee and Internet blocked for two hours before the closing session.
Nawaz was scheduled to speak to the audience in the closing session of the two-day conference. Organiser of the event Munizae Jahangir said they are trying to find a way to connect to the speech but the wires had been cut at the marquee, adding that rats do such things.
Munizae Jahangir said, “We believe in freedom of expression, that is why this non-partisan platform is open to everyone and we condemn the muzzling of the closing session where Mian Nawaz Sharif was going to make an address.”
Supreme Court Bar Association’s President Ahsan Bhoon announced that all the wires had been cut in the marquee and it was not something that could be fixed quickly. He recited an Urdu verse; “Jinhon nae basti ujarr dali/ kabhi tau un ka hisab ho ga.”
He said, “We will have to stand ourselves for the survival of this country. We have to break all chains and work for democracy. Do not accept offices only. Talk about changing the system. "The organisers of the Asma Jahangir Conference regret [what they called] the state’s highhandedness after it blocked the three-time elected former PM’s speech at the conference’s closing ceremony," they said in a statement issued Sunday.
The Internet provider was restrained from providing the organisers with internet services for the conference two hours before the closing when Sharif’s speech was supposed to start. This included cutting off of cellular internet services two hours before the closing session, in the vicinity of the hotel where the event was organised.
“The organisers of Asma Jahangir Conference 21 which includes the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council, and the AGHS, strongly condemn this act and consider it an onslaught on the freedom of expression. These steps can never deter our resolve to give voice to the marginalised communities,” the statement said.