Pakistan restores internet services in six Balochistan districts after five years

·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 4 (ANI): After a gap of five years, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has finally allowed mobile phone operators to restore internet services in several districts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

The interior ministry of Pakistan directed telecom operators for the restoration of internet services in the Khyber District of KP and six districts of Balochistan after a review of the security situation by concerned departments, Ary News reported.

The telecommunication authority also said that cellular mobile operators (CMOs) will also be directed to upgrade their existing infrastructure from 2G sites to 3G/ 4G.

"The restoration of data services will help residents to fulfill their educational, health, commerce and communication needs. Restoration of internet services in other areas will be implemented in a phased manner, subject to review of the security situation," the PTA said in its press statement.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the pandemic was a huge blow to educational institutions, with students compelled to attend online classes to the detriment of thousands in Balochistan, the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan, who had little or no access to reliable internet connections.

Students in Balochistan and the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held vigorous protests demanding better internet connectivity to attend online classes, although scores of demonstrators were arrested under Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code, imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Internet connectivity remained poor or non-existent in seven districts on grounds of "national security." The government cited threats of insurgency and sectarian violence as a reason to curb digital rights in Balochistan, HRCP report said.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, only about 37 percent of people in Pakistan have access to broadband internet. In Balochistan, the figures are likely far lower, HRCP said.

Although the country's cyberspace expanded during the pandemic, the unavailability of internet connections remained a pressing issue. "National security" was cited as a prime concern that led to shutting down internet connectivity in most of the province for much of 2020. (ANI)

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