Pakistani election abruptly stops after government orders internet blackout, claims election was 'rigged'

On Thursday, voting in Pakistan's parliamentary election abruptly ended after the government ordered internet and mobile services to be shut down.

Officials have encouraged Pakistani citizens to "protect" their ballots, expressing concerns that the election has been rigged.

Polling for the election, which has been marred by multiple delays, allegations of deceit, and instances of violence, began at 8 am and lasted until 5 pm. There have since been claims of anomalies at multiple polling locations which include reports that voters have been barred from entering, scarcity of paper ballots, and a lack of workers, according to the Times Now.

Voters claim that they had a more difficult time locating their polling places due to the suspension of mobile communications. Just ten minutes before the polls began, calls and data services were stopped, but wifi networks were reportedly operational, per the BBC.

The interior minister asserted that terrorism-related concerns prompted the shutdown.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, voiced concerns about the matter on X and encouraged citizens to "guard your vote."

"Remain peacefully outside the offices of the Returning Officers until the full results are out. Guard your vote. Never leave the RO office without taking the complete result. A vigil on the vote tonight will free generations of Pakistan from slavery," Khan wrote.

Khan, who was ousted as the Prime Minister and later jailed on corruption charges, is still behind bars and has been banned from holding office. His party referred to the internet shutdown as a "cowardly act."

Three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is on this year's ballot, and according to several analysts, this election is among the least credible in Pakistan's history.

Shocked by internet services being cut, one voter told the BBC that "voters should be facilitated instead of [having to be met with] such hurdles."

Someone else mentioned to the outlet that she had been anticipating a complete shutdown of services.

Numerous voters in Lahori informed the BBC that they were unable to schedule transportation in order to cast their ballots due to the internet blackout, and some claimed they were unable to communicate with other family members in order to determine the best time to visit polling places.

Mohsin Dawar, a politician in Pakistan, wrote a letter to Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner on Thursday and claimed that the Taliban had taken control of the Tappi, North Waziristan, polling place. In addition, he asserted that three female poll workers were assaulted.

Additionally, Jamaat e Islami Pakistan, a political party in Pakistan, released a video on Thursday purportedly showing parliamentary election manipulation.

However, an Interior Ministry spokesman justified the move and said: "As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country, precious lives have been lost. Security measures are essential to maintain law and order situation and to deal with potential threats."

While the nation has a history of militant attacks, incidents of violence are usually isolated on election day, according to the outlet.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Pakistan's acting prime minister, congratulated the country on the "successful conduct" of the general elections and said that the turnout of voters was a "clear indication of the public commitment" to determining the destiny of the nation.

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