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Pak: Sindh High Court expresses displeasure, seeks reasons for suspension of internet services on election day

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Sindh | February 22, 2024 10:55:10 AM IST
The Sindh High Court (SHC) has expressed displeasure at the suspension of internet services on election day on February 8 and asked the federal government to provide reasons for the disruption, Dawn reported.

"Why are you making a spectacle of yourself in front of the world?" SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi asked, directing authorities to restore internet services and social media across the country.

According to the report, the remarks came as the court on Wednesday resumed hearing three petitions against the suspension of internet services. The lawyers Jibran Nasir and Hyder Raza as well as the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan had filed petitions against the ministers and the Pakistan Telecommunication authority for causing hindrance to access social media platforms and disturbing mobile internet and broadband services in the run-up to February 8 polls.

As the proceedings commenced, Justice Abbasi said, "The way you held elections, everyone around the world witnessed it. Even the international media is telling the world how elections were held."

He noted that the internet was not working "here, there or anywhere", adding that the services were disrupted everywhere.

"Don''t do this, the public understands who is doing what," the judge remarked. "Let the whistle of the pressure cooker blow lightly, the more you try to clamp it down the larger the explosion would be," he warned.

"Who''s going to be president, who''s going to be prime minister, who will get governorship; if this had to happen, why were elections held?" Justice Abbasi asked.

The hearing was adjourned till March 5.

On January 24, the SHC issued an interim restraining order, asking the PTA and other respondents to ensure that there must be no disruption and shutdown of mobile phone, internet and broadband services till January 29 unless the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organisation) Act, 1996 and Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021 were attracted.

On January 29, a federal law officer and the lawyer for the PTA had sought more time to file comments on behalf of authority, the information technology and communication and interior ministries and the court had put off the hearing till February 6 and also extended the interim order, Dawn reported.

However, a countrywide suspension of cellular services was witnessed on February 8, the day millions of Pakistanis voted. While the caretaker government cited security threats for the decision, the disruption was strongly criticised both locally and internationally.

(ANI)

 
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