Sun, 03 March 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

Pakistan Elections

Polls close after mobile internet cut 

Update : 08 Feb 2024, 18:44

Polls have closed in Pakistan after the authorities suspended mobile calls and data while millions voted for a new government in a controversial election. The interior ministry said incidents of terrorism made the measure necessary.

The election comes almost two years after the previous prime minister, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, was ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Three-time PM Nawaz Sharif was on the ballot in what many analysts say is Pakistan's least credible election yet.

Khan, jailed on corruption charges last year, is barred from standing and his party called the internet cut a "cowardly act".

Polling experts were already forecasting a low turnout, which it's thought would hamper the PTI's chances. The suspension of mobile services made it harder for voters to find their polling stations.

Both calls and data services were suspended just 10 minutes before voting started, although wifi networks still appeared to be working.

One voter told the BBC they were shocked at the decision, saying "voters should be facilitated instead of [having to be met with] such hurdles".

Another said she had been expecting a blanket shutdown.

Many voters in the city of Lahore told the BBC that the internet blackout meant it was not possible to book taxis to go and vote, while others said they couldn't chat to other family members to co-ordinate when to head to polling stations.  

Justifying the move, an Interior Ministry spokesman said: "As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country, precious lives have been lost. Security measures are essential to maintain law and order situation and to deal with potential threats."

Pakistan has a history of militant attacks but over voting day there were only isolated incidents of violence. In the worst, in Dera Ismail Khan in the north, four police officials were killed in a bomb attack on their vehicle. Several injuries were reported in blasts in south-western Balochistan province, but no casualties. Source: BBC

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