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ISLAMABAD: The government suspended mobile service on Election Day in view of the intelligence reports regarding terror threats on February 8, said Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz on Friday.

Addressing a press conference flanked by caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi, he said that the decision to suspend mobile service on Election Day was taken in a high-level meeting.

There were reports that terrorists may use mobile phones to detonate explosive devices, he said, adding that the decision to suspend mobile phone service was not easy but otherwise the lives of millions of people who moved to polling stations for casting their ballot would have been put at risk.

Internet shutdown attracts criticism

The minister said that terrorist incidents just a day before elections had compelled taking difficult measures such as suspension of service to disallow terrorists the means to communicate, coordinate, and conduct terrorist operations.

He said it was in our knowledge that political parties would criticise the decision regarding the suspension of mobile service but our top priority is the protection of lives of citizens.

I would take this decision again if I had to, he said. He also said that the decision to suspend mobile service across the country was taken on the recommendation of security agencies and not the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

He expressed satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of elections under exceptional security circumstances as hundreds of thousands of security personnel had to be deployed in harsh weather within a limited time.

Ejaz said the country is facing a spike in terrorism and there were credible reports of attacks on law enforcement agencies and civilians by terrorist entities such as TTP, Daesh, and foreign-sponsored militant organisations in Balochistan to shake the confidence of the people and dissuade them from exercising their democratic right.

The minister said to prevent the possibility of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) en route to and from the polling stations in sensitive areas, especially in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, proper Bomb Disposal clearances had to be done which also consumed substantial time and delayed results.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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