Pakistan polls: Imran Khan’s party says its websites blocked

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of the general elections on February 8, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday said its websites were ‘blocked’ in Pakistan as it called for a response from the federal authorities, Dawn reported.
Deprived of its ‘bat’ symbol for the upcoming elections, the PTI has fielded its leaders as independent candidates with different electoral symbols, according to the report.
To tackle confusion among voters and to ease access to polls-related information, the PTI launched an online portal on its website and a backup site. The party has also introduced a feature whereby voters can message on Imran Khan’s official Facebook account to get information about PTI-backed candidates, according to Dawn.
PTI questioned why its websites have been blocked in Pakistan in a post shared on X. The party’s official X account tagged the official handles of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan’s Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi and interim IT minister Umar Saif.
The party asked, “Can you explain why PTI’s websites are blocked in Pakistan?” It further questioned, “People are still getting symbol information from Imran Khan’s Facebook page so the question is what purpose is this block serving?”
PTI’s social media team member Jibran Ilyas also tagged Saif in his post and asked “Can you tell Pakistanis why the websites of [the] country’s most popular political party [are] blocked by you?”
Notably, multiple internet outages have been witnessed across Pakistan that coincided with the party’s online events. On January 20, internet services were interrupted an hour before Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s “virtual power show,” Dawn reported.
Prior to that, similar internet disruptions were reported on December 17 and January 7 as well, which resulted in the party urging the Supreme Court to notice of the internet suspension.
Pakistan’s caretaker government had blamed “technical” issues and system installations for the disruptions. Earlier this week, information minister Solangi had said that there was “no guarantee” that such incidents would not occur in the future.
In the same press conference, PTA Director General Ahmed Shamim Pirzada “technical glitches” and system upgrades for the outages. He had said, “You can face this for the next two to three months.”
On Wednesday, Imran Khan said the Punjab government has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to hamper the upcoming power show by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s candidates, Dawn reported.
The former PM made the remarks after attending court proceedings of GBP 190 million, Toshakhana, and cypher cases. Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir deferred the indictment of Khan in the £190m reference as the defence counsel was absent.
Khan said Pakistan’s caretaker government, a few individuals in the establishment, and the Election Commission of Pakistan are united against his party, according to Dawn report.
He stressed that PTI had an overwhelming vote bank within the armed forces, and the party will not be deterred whatever coercive measures were adopted to suppress its voice.
Imran Khan said he never witnessed such pre-poll rigging in Pakistan’s history, and they planned to rig elections set to be held on February 8. However, he added that they would see the public rage on election day.
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