In a significant move for Pakistani democracy, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered uninterrupted internet access for all citizens until the upcoming February 8th general elections. This ruling comes in response to a petition filed by human rights advocate Jibran Nasir, highlighting several recent internet disruptions, particularly targeting social media platforms like Facebook, X, Instagram, and YouTube.
Last week’s nationwide outage, attributed to a “technical fault” by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), raised concerns about internet censorship, especially impacting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) election campaigns. Advocate Nasir argued that these targeted disruptions hinder fair participation and free expression in the run-up to the crucial polls.
The SHC’s directive sends a strong message, explicitly prohibiting any internet service suspensions by the authorities until after the elections. This ensures equal access to information and communication for all citizens, allowing them to make informed choices during the electoral process.
The court has further instructed the PTA and relevant parties to submit their responses by January 29th, potentially leading to further scrutiny of the technical justifications provided for previous outages. This transparency measure allows for greater public understanding and potential accountability to prevent future abuses.
While the technical details of the past disruptions remain under investigation, the SHC’s ruling prioritizes free expression and unimpeded communication during this critical period. This decision safeguards democratic principles and ensures a level playing field for all political parties as Pakistan prepares for its upcoming elections.