SHC upholds stay order on uninterrupted internet access till Feb 8 elections

Amin Anwar
Ethernet cables used for internet connections are pictured in a Berlin offic, on August 20, 2014. — Reuters
Ethernet cables used for internet connections are pictured in a Berlin offic, on August 20, 2014. — Reuters

  • SHC CJ says it seems internet to function properly after polls.
  • laments internet services suspended even for judges. 
  • Users experienced internet outages multiple times lately.

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday upheld its stay order wherein it had directed the authorities to provide uninterrupted internet service including mobile internet service across the country till February 8 elections.

On January 24, the SHC directed the authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted access to internet services to all citizens till the February 8 general elections.

In its order, the high court had restrained the authorities from suspending internet services and directed the respondents to submit their response on January 29.

During the hearing of a case today, SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi expressed dismay over the suspension of internet services, saying: "How would the internet work anywhere else when it's not even working for them [judges]"  

He remarked that it seemed as if the internet would function properly after the elections.

The high court adjourned the hearing till February 21 as a lawyer for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) failed to appear before the court.

PS-110’s independent candidate and rights activist Advocate Jibran Nasir had filed the petition in the SHC against the frequent suspension of internet services in the country ahead of the general elections.

Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi Monday turned down the possibility of an internet shutdown on February 8 with more than 128 million voters expected to exercise their fundamental right to elect their representatives.

Speaking on a private news channel, Solangi acknowledged that local administrations have the authority to decide on internet shutdown in light of the law and order situation, however, he stressed that no such situation has so far been reported.

His remarks come as the country has witnessed multiple internet disruptions in the run-up to the upcoming general elections, most notably on December 7 and 17, and then again later on January 20 last month.

The government's failure to disclose specific reasons for these internet disruptions, except for the one on January 20 which was termed a "technical fault" by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), has given way to concerns regarding possible internet shutdown on the poll day.

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.