KARACHI: Bolo Bhi strongly protests yet another crackdown on cellular services across Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad as a security measure.
In 2012, the authorities suspended cellular services on eight different occasions [See our timeline]. Yesterday’s ban was in reaction to a peaceful sit-in near Bilawal House, Karachi, by civil society members protesting the target killings of Hazara Shia in Quetta.
The kill-switch tactics are adopted by the Interior Ministry’s on the pretext of security measure. However, according to the law, cellular services can only be suspended in case of an emergency declared by the President. None of the cellular service suspension orders meet this criteria. Despite condemnations by human rights organizations, telecom companies and citizens the government has continued to use the kill-switch. This is massive set back to democracy and civil liberties in Pakistan. Security is the government’s responsibility. Ensuring that at the cost of citizens’ rights is a flawed strategy.
Bolo Bhi demands that the the government must ensure and uphold:
- Citizens right to peaceful protest.
- Citizens right to unhindered access to communication especially in times of distress.
- A transparent counter-terrorism policy that does not compromise citizens’ rights
Bolo Bhi means ‘Speak up’, we are an organization with focus on advocacy, policy and research. Our focus areas include human rights with focus on gender and minority rights, internet freedom and privacy. We believe it is crucial to bridge the gap between rights advocates, policy makers, media and average citizens. Bridging the gap enables collective strength and concentrated focus on the areas that require attention.
Contact: Afia Salam– Media and outreach