DESPITE repeated assurances to the contrary, the government did shut down mobile phone and internet services throughout the election day.
The decision to suspend these vital services was taken, according to the official account, as part of larger efforts to control the law and order situation in the country.
However, it disrupted crucial commu- nication channels during the election process, and thousands of voters were left wondering about the location of their polling stations, as the helpline and SMS facility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not be accessed.
This suspension of communication not only hindered people’s engagement, but also raised questions about the electoral process in their minds when election results were delayed owing to network suspension.
The ECP and the relevant ministry also acknowledged that the suspension of mobile phone and internet services had significantly affected the process.
The disruption that was caused by the suspension of mobile phone services on the day of the elections underscores the urgent need for a sincere re-evaluation of strategies aimed at ensuring both security and democratic participation.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2024