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10 Key highlights of Pakistan’s 2024 Elections, Mobile and Internet Services Halted

10 Key highlights of Pakistan's Underway 2024 Elections, Mobile and Internet Services Halted - The Hard News Daily

Amid a backdrop of unrest, militant skirmishes, and an acute economic downturn, Pakistan initiated its 2024 general elections to appoint a fresh government. The elections see more than 128 million eligible voters poised to participate in what is noted as the nation’s costliest electoral event yet, spread across 90,675 voting centers.

With Nawaz Sharif leading the charge and a temporary halt on mobile and internet services due to security considerations, Pakistan is on the path to selecting its new leadership for the coming term.

Highlighted points include:

1. The polling commenced under tight security at 8:00 a.m. on a Thursday and is slated to end at 5:00 p.m., with electoral officials prepared for a smooth voting process. Over 17,000 candidates are vying for positions in this election.

2. To ensure public safety and a seamless voting process amidst escalating security threats, the Pakistani authorities have halted mobile and internet connectivity nationwide. This has also impacted the Election Commission of Pakistan’s SMS service at 8300, intended for voters to obtain voting and polling station details.

3. Sikandar Sultan Raja, the Chief Election Commissioner, emphasized that the decision to cut off internet and mobile services was a governmental call and outside the Election Commission’s jurisdiction. He had previously coordinated with police chiefs and provincial secretaries to ensure heightened vigilance during the elections.

4. Observations by NetBlocks on internet shutdowns reveal that various regions in Pakistan are experiencing outages, along with disruptions to mobile networks, affecting voters on election day.

5. The Interior Ministry stated that mobile services are being ‘temporarily’ suspended due to ‘security concerns,’ attributing the action to a spike in terrorist attacks that have compromised national security.

6. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, a former leader of the PPP, criticized the shutdown of mobile services on election day as a precursor to electoral manipulation.

7. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tank district, voting was halted following a shooting incident by unidentified assailants, which resulted in the death of a security personnel. Additionally, some polling stations in Karachi’s NA-250 constituency saw delays in starting the voting process due to the late arrival of presiding officers and polling staff.

8. Despite these challenges, a significant number of Pakistani voters were observed casting their votes, under enhanced security measures.

9. Political figures, including Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, PPP’s Aseefa Bhutto, and former Minister Imran Khan (who voted via postal ballot from Adiala Jail), participated in the voting process, demonstrating their civic duty.

10. US Congressman Bill Huizenga called on the Pakistani government to ensure the elections are conducted transparently and fairly, urging adherence to legal standards and respect for human rights throughout the electoral process.

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