Amnesty International has strongly criticized the internet outage on election day, labeling it a “reckless attack” on people’s rights. Livia Saccardi, the interim deputy director for South Asia at Amnesty International, denounced the decision to suspend telecommunications and mobile internet services during the election as a direct assault on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The government implemented the suspension of mobile phone services during the polling process in response to recent incidents of terrorism in the country. Many political parties, including the PPP, urged the government to restore the service, and the PPP lodged a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan against the decision.
Saccardi emphasized the recklessness of impeding access to information on election day, particularly in the aftermath of bomb blasts and an intense crackdown on the opposition in the lead-up to the elections.
The interim deputy director asserted that the restrictions on information dissemination, despite reassurances from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and Election Commission of Pakistan, violated people’s human rights during this crucial time in Pakistan.
The statement from Amnesty International further highlighted that blanket shutdowns impact people’s mobility, livelihoods, and their ability to navigate through challenging times, eroding trust in authorities.
The organization called on Pakistani authorities to urgently lift all blanket restrictions on internet access, enabling people to access timely information and report on any election-related matters throughout the polling process. The appeal emphasized the importance of upholding human rights and ensuring transparency during the electoral process.