Punjab seeks suspension of mobile, internet services in Lahore, Sheikhupura, other cities

This image shows a No Service text on a smartphones screen. — The News/File
This image shows a ‘No Service’ text on a smartphone’s screen. — The News/File

LAHORE: As by-elections are set to take place across 22 constituencies in Pakistan tomorrow, Punjab Saturday requested the federal Interior Ministry to suspend mobile network and internet services in relevant districts and tehsils.

The provincial home department has written a letter to the federal ministry in this regard, citing maintenance of law and order situation in Punjab and avoid any untoward incident.

The home department, in the letter, requested the suspension as various districts and constituencies will witness the conduct of by-polls more than two months after the February 8 general elections across the country.

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

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

A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Punjab chief secretary, inspector general, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) 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 “temporarily” suspended on the day of vote even before the clock struck 8am — the start of voting time.

By-elections will take place across two dozen National and provincial assembly constituencies tomorrow.

The by-polls will be conducted on at least five National Assembly seats, 12 in the Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies, while one constituency for election in the Sindh legislature will witness a by-election.

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 in the by-polls.

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 also 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.


More to follow…

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