Lahore, Pakistan – Residents and visitors in the vicinity of Minar-e-Pakistan are facing a communications blackout after the government ordered a shutdown of internet services in the area.
The move comes amid growing concerns over potential security threats during a scheduled political rally at the historic monument. The rally, organized by a major opposition party, is expected to draw thousands of supporters and has raised fears of violence and unrest.
The internet shutdown, which began early this morning, has left many locals and tourists unable to access online services, including social media, email, and messaging platforms. The decision has been met with frustration and anger, with many calling it a violation of their rights to communication and information.
مینار پاکستان کے اردگرد 10 کلومیٹر انٹرنیٹ اور موبائل سگنلز بند کرنے کے احکامات۔ pic.twitter.com/NCCmAx43vh
— Adil Raja (@soldierspeaks) March 25, 2023
The government, however, has defended its actions, saying that the internet shutdown is necessary to ensure public safety and prevent any potential security breaches. “We regret any inconvenience caused, but the safety and security of the public is our top priority,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
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However, human rights groups have criticized such measures, arguing that they infringe on citizens’ right to free expression and access to information. “Internet shutdowns are a blunt and disproportionate tool that harms innocent people and violates their fundamental rights,” said Usama Khilji, director of the digital rights organization Bolo Bhi.
The internet shutdown is expected to remain in place until the end of the rally, which is scheduled to take place later this evening. However, many are hoping that the government will reconsider its decision and restore internet services sooner, allowing people to go about their daily lives without disruption.