By-elections: Punjab seeks suspension of mobile internet services on April 21

Request made to maintain law and order situation and avoid any untoward incident on polling day, letter states

By
Ahmed Faraz
A mobile user is unable to access the internet in Karachi on February 8, 2024. — The News
A mobile user is unable to access the internet in Karachi on February 8, 2024. — The News
  • By-polls are scheduled on 21 NA, PA seats.
  • Request made to maintain law and order situation.
  • X is blocked in Pakistan since Feb 17.

LAHORE: Punjab Saturday requested the federal government to suspend mobile internet services in the province's 13 districts and tehsils on April 21 (Sunday).

The request has been made to maintain law and order situation in the province and avoid any untoward incident.

In a letter to the interior ministry, the provincial home department requested the suspension, as by-elections are scheduled on nearly two dozen National and provincial assembly constituencies tomorrow.

According to the letter, the request for the suspension of mobile internet services has been made for Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts.

Meanwhile, the tehsils where suspension is requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujarat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal and Bhakkar.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Punjab chief secretary, inspector general, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman as well as other relevant officials.

It is important to note that the mobile internet services were blocked on February 8 as well despite assurances by the government of undisrupted network connectivity during polls.

Services were suspended on polling day even before the clock struck 8am — the start of voting time.

By-polls on 21 seats

In the first major by-poll exercise after the Feb 8 elections, by-polls will be held on 21 National Assembly and provincial assembly seats.

These include five NA seats; 12 Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies.

In Punjab, NA-132 (Kasur) and NA-119 (Lahore) — vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz — will see candidates up against each other on Sunday.

PM Shehbaz also gave up two of his provincial assembly seats in Lahore, PP-158 and PP-164, retaining his NA-123 seat in the National Assembly.

In Sindh, NA-196 (Qamber Shadadkot) will see a by-poll after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari vacated the seat.

In KP, the NA-44 (Dera Ismail Khan) seat was left vacant after provincial Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur retained his provincial assembly seat, PK-113, while by-polls will also be conducted in the NA-8 (Bajaur) constituency, which was left vacant after one of its candidates — Rehan Zeb Khan — was murdered ahead of the February 8 general elections.