Pakistan has halted mobile services as millions vote to elect a new government. Citing recent incidents of terror attacks across the country, authorities justified the move.
Several political leaders have spoken out against the internet suspension, including Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto. In a post on X, he has asked the government to immediately restore mobile phone services in the country.
Bhutto added that he would ask the party to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the courts in this matter.
The election comes two years after former PM Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
The ECP has frozen the party symbol of Khan’s party –Tehreek-e-Insaf, while the majority of the leaders have been forced to abstain from contesting polls or contest as independents.
Khan is in jail in multiple cases ranging from corruption to breaking Islamic law and has been barred from contesting. He is serving at least 14 years in prison, having been sentenced in three separate cases in the space of five days last week.
His lawyers say that he is facing over 170 charges in different cases.
According to the Dawn, voter turnout is low in the major cities but is likely to pick up as the day progresses. No incident of violence has been reported from the country
The interim government has passed strict rules about the election coverage, including what can be said about candidates, campaigning and opinion polls. There is no clarity on how soon the results would be declared.
As many as 128 million people are registered to cast their votes, with almost half under the age of 35. More than 5,000 candidates, of whom just 313 are women, are contesting 336 seats in this election.
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is expected to emerge as the single largest party in the polls and Nawaz Sharif is the favourite for the prime minister’s post.