Govt hints at suspending internet services on Feb 8 polling day

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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Interior Minister Dr Gohar Ejaz on Tuesday said that the government would consider suspending the internet services on February 8 only if it gets a request from a district or province in view of the security situation.

“So far, there has been no decision made regarding the suspension of internet services at any place,” said the minister during a presser in Islamabad alongside caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi.

A day earlier, Solangi turned down the possibility of an internet shutdown on February 8, saying that local administrations have the authority to decide on an internet shutdown in light of the law and order situation, however, he stressed that no such situation has so far been reported.

On Sunday, caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai announced that the internet service will remain temporarily restricted in the sensitive polling booths in the province on election day.

Ejaz, while talking about the law and order situation today, said that the government was making efforts to hold peaceful elections without any loss of lives.

“The election atmosphere in Sindh is full of excitement and it does not seem that any political party has enmity with another,” said Ejaz, adding that he did not see any tension between the candidates in Balochistan during his visit.

He said that we do not want to take the law into our hands in Sindh, “The parties contesting the polls in Sindh have known each other for years.”

The interior minister said that the government will provide security in three layers. “The commandos will be deployed in Balochistan to respond in the shortest possible time,” he said.

“Police, civil armed forces and army will give you protection. We will not let anyone raise an eyebrow against the integrity and independence of Pakistan,” he said.

Ejaz said that there are 90,777 polling stations across the country of which over 40,000 have been declared normal. Meanwhile, 20,985 polling stations have been declared sensitive and 16,766 have been declared most sensitive.

At least seven to eight law enforcement officials will be posted at every polling station across the country, he said, adding that over 137,000 law enforcement agencies have been deployed in the country.

“Pakistan Army troops will be deployed as quick reaction force (QRF),” said Ejaz.

The minister further said that people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — which suffers the most at the hands of terrorism — should come out and vote on February 8.

Ejaz said that it was government’s duty to protect the lives of all citizens.