Pak Elections Begin: Mobile Internet Suspended, Security Tightened After Pre-Poll Violence —Top Points

After days of violence, militant attacks, and an ongoing economic crisis, Pakistan kickstarted its general elections 2024 to elect a new government. The country will witness over 128 million registered voters who will cast votes across 90,675 polling stations, in the most expensive polling exercise to date in the counrty. With Nawaz Sharif at the forefront of the elections and mobile and internet services suspended due to national security concerns, Pakistan is determined to elect its new leader for the next tenure.

Here are the top points.

1. The election began amid security concerns at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday and will continue till 5 pm, as authorities geared up to conduct an uninterrupted electoral process. More than 17,000 candidates are contesting in today’s election.

2. The Pakistani government suspended mobile and internet services across the nation to maintain law and order and prevent any hindrance in voting amid a ‘deteriorating security situation.’ As a result, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s 8300 SMS service, which was made for voters to get details of the vote and polling stations, has also been affected.

3. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja stressed that the shutting down of internet and mobile services was the decision of the government and was beyond ECP’s mandate. He had earlier spoken to inspectors general of police and chief secretaries of four provinces and asked them to remain on high alert during the voting.

4. Internet’s Observatory NetBlocks also posted about the internet blackouts in Pakistan and shared that mutiple regions of the country are being affected by it in addition to mobile network disruptions that the Pakistanis are facing on the election day.

5. The Interior Ministry in its statement announced that the mobile signals would be ‘temporarily’ shut over ‘security issues’ and said that the “recent surge in terrorist activities resulted in precious lives have stirred security enviornment in the country.”

6. Former PPP leader Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar alleged that the shutting down of mobile services on the election day was the “beginning of election day rigging.”

7. Voting at Tank’s Kot Azam in Khyber Pakhtukhwa was suspended after unidentified men opened fire which resulted in the death of a security staff. Also, voting could not begin in several polling stations in Karachi’s NA-250 constituency as the presiding officer and polling staff could not reach there on time. 

8. Meanwhile, millions of Pakistani voters were seen exercising their right on the election day amid tightened security.

9. In addition to the citizens, several leaders also cast votes. These included, Shehbaz Sharif, President of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz who cast his vote at polling station number 82 in the NA-127 constituency in Lahore. PPP leader Aseefa Bhutto cast her vote from Nawabshah and  former Minister Imran Khan cast his vote from Adiala Jail through a postal ballot. 

10. US Congressman Bill Huizenga urged the Pak Government to conduct fair and free elections and adhere to the rule of law and respect human rights during the elections.

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