Advocacy Groups Urge for Unhindered Internet During Pakistan Elections

Summary: Global organizations have called on Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister and the Chief Election Commissioner to ensure open internet access during the forthcoming general election. This appeal emphasizes the critical role of the internet in upholding democratic processes and human rights, particularly in the context of Pakistan’s history of internet shutdowns.

As the 2024 general elections in Pakistan approach, the importance of internet accessibility has been brought sharply into focus. A coalition of over 300 organizations from across the globe, dedicated to the #KeepItOn campaign, has made a fervent plea to Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and top electoral officer Sikandar Sultan Raja. Their message is clear: the right to a free, open and secure internet is paramount, especially during significant national milestones such as elections.

In a country where past elections have been marred by internet blackouts, this call to action comes as a precautionary and preemptive measure to avoid a repeat of history. Pakistan’s tryst with digital darkness, notoriously in 2018 and in the events leading up to the current electoral cycle, has raised considerable concern among human rights and digital advocacy groups.

The request from these organizations includes not just maintaining service continuity but also ensuring that social media platforms and communication channels remain unhindered. The internet’s role is crucial for a transparent election, allowing for the expression of public opinion, access to information, and real-time monitoring by various stakeholder groups, including citizenry, journalists, and international observers.

Moreover, the potential economic repercussions of internet shutdowns cannot be overlooked, as both businesses and individuals bear the brunt of such service interruptions. These appeals are grounded in the tenets of both Pakistani constitutional law and international human rights frameworks, calling for the safeguarding of freedoms pertaining to speech, assembly, and access to information.

The #KeepItOn coalition underscores the duty of telecommunication firms towards upholding human rights, aligning with globally recognized principles and guidelines. Through this collective voice, the advocates are not only appealing to the Pakistani authorities but also setting a precedence of digital responsibility for countries around the world.

FAQ Section

What is the #KeepItOn campaign?
The #KeepItOn campaign is an initiative by a coalition of over 300 organizations worldwide advocating for the right to a free, open, and secure internet, especially during significant events like elections.

Why are global organizations appealing to Pakistan before the general elections?
Due to Pakistan’s history of internet blackouts during elections, these organizations are requesting the caretaker Prime Minister and the Chief Election Commissioner to ensure open internet access to uphold democratic processes, human rights, and economic stability.

Who is the appeal addressed to in Pakistan?
The appeal is addressed to the caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

What are the concerns related to internet shutdowns in Pakistan?
Concerns include the suppression of public opinion, restricted access to information, the inability to conduct real-time election monitoring, and considerable economic impacts on businesses and individuals.

What are the potential consequences of internet blackouts during elections?
The consequences can span from stifling freedom of expression and assembly to impacting the economy and breaching both national and international human rights agreements.

How are telecommunication firms involved in the #KeepItOn campaign’s message?
Telecommunication firms are being reminded of their duty to uphold human rights and are urged to align with internationally recognized principles to maintain uninterrupted service during elections.

What is the broader message of the #KeepItOn coalition to the global community?
The broader message is that ensuring internet access during elections is a responsibility and precedence for digital rights and democracy that should be followed worldwide.

Key Definitions
Internet Accessibility: The availability and quality of Internet service that allows individuals to access and use online services and information.
Internet Blackouts: The intentional disruption of internet service, making it inaccessible or unusable.
Real-time Monitoring: The continuous and immediate observation and reporting on activities as they happen, often used to ensure transparency in processes like elections.
Economic Repercussions: Financial impacts resulting from an event or policy, which in this context refers to losses incurred during internet shutdowns.
Digital Responsibility: An understanding and acknowledgment of the ethical implications and responsibilities related to digital technologies and internet governance.

Related Links
– For further information about global digital rights and advocacy, visit the official website of Access Now: Access Now.
– To explore human rights frameworks and policies, visit the United Nations Human Rights Office: United Nations Human Rights.
– For updates on worldwide internet freedom and democracy, visit Freedom House: Freedom House.
– To learn more about international human rights law, visit the official website of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.