The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) claimed on Friday that its websites were “blocked” within Pakistan ahead of general elections scheduled for February 8.
The party also demanded an explanation from the authorities.
Facing the absence of its signature ‘bat’ electoral symbol for the upcoming polls, the PTI has nominated its candidates as independents with various electoral symbols.
To address potential confusion among voters and to facilitate access to election-related information, the party introduced an online portal on its website, insaf.pk, along with a “back-up site,” pticandidates.com.
The party’s official X account tagged the official handles of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), interim information minister Murtaza Solangi, and interim IT minister Umar Saif.
The post inquired, “Can you explain why PTI’s websites are blocked in Pakistan?” and questioned the purpose of the block when people could still obtain symbol information from Imran Khan’s Facebook page.
Earlier, a fake web portal, resembling one launched by the party, was providing incorrect information to voters about PTI-backed candidates.
It’s worth noting that in recent weeks, there have been multiple nationwide internet outages coinciding with the PTI’s online events. The most recent disruption occurred on January 20, with internet services interrupted an hour before the PTI’s “virtual power show.”
Similar disruptions were reported on December 17 and January 7, prompting the party to appeal to the Supreme Court to take notice of the internet suspension.
A day earlier, the Sindh High Court restrained the relevant authorities from suspending internet services till the general elections on February 8.
The order came on a petition filed by human rights defender and lawyer Jibran Nasir, who was contesting the polls for PS-110 as an independent candidate, against the frequent “unconstitutional” internet outages in the country in recent days.
The internet suspensions coincided with the PTI’s virtual events and the party recently moved the top court against them, asking it to take notice of the disruption of popular social media platforms including X, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
On January 22, Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi blamed “technical issues” for the recent internet outages across the country, saying that there was no guarantee that such incidents would not occur in the future.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said the internet was disrupted because of a “technical fault”.
To a question regarding internet outages and whether the government would resolve to prevent such instances during the February 8 general elections, Solangi said: “As per my information, the reasons [for disruptions] are technical and there are some matters of system installations involved as well.”
PTA DG Pirzada attributed the outages to “technical glitches” and system upgradation, saying: “You can face this for the next two to three months.”