Pakistan’s Punjab government seeks suspension of mobile internet services on April 21 due to key by-elections

Lahore, Apr 20 (PTI) Pakistan’s Punjab government on Saturday requested the federal government to suspend mobile internet services in the province’s 13 districts and tehsils on Sunday due to the key by-elections scheduled on nearly two dozen national and provincial assembly constituencies, a media report said.

Geo News reported that the request has been made to maintain law and order in the province and avoid any untoward incident.

The provincial home department in a letter to the Interior Ministry requested the suspension of mobile internet services for Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts. Meanwhile, the tehsils where suspension is requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujarat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal and Bhakkar, the report said.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Punjab chief secretary, inspector general, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority chairman as well as other relevant officials, the report said.

Mobile internet services were suspended during the day of general elections on February 8 as well despite assurances by the government of undisrupted network connectivity during polls.

The services were suspended on polling day even before the start of voting time at 8 am.

Social media platform X has also been suspended in Pakistan since February 17 when former Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Chattha accused the chief election commissioner and the chief justice of being involved in rigging the February 8 general elections.

After the February 8 elections, this is the first major by-election that will be held on 22 National Assembly and provincial assembly seats.

These include five NA seats; 12 Punjab Assembly, two each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies, and one in Sindh, Geo News reported.

In Punjab, NA-132 (Kasur) and NA-119 (Lahore) vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz will go to polls.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif 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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 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, according to the report.