Karachi 21/9/2012: Bolo Bhi strongly protests Government’s decision to block cellular services in 15 cities across the country as a security measure.
Despite announcing a public holiday that includes closure of schools, courts and government offices to allow religious and political parties to condemn the disrespectful video peacefully, the Government, through Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ordered the suspension of cellular services in major cities of the country.
This is not the first time communication has been blocked by means of a kill-switch. The Government has previously resorted to such tactics in Balochistan, Gilgit and other major cities in the country on important occasions such as Eid and Independence Day.
Bolo Bhi raised the issue with security experts who clarified that kill-switch tactics not only compromise communication rights of citizen but also result in huge security risks themselves – GSM blocking bars tracker services and home security equipment, allowing a field day for criminals. This communication breakdown also takes a toll on health and emergency services.
There are other, more efficient methods to counter terrorism without compromising citizen’s basic rights to access and communication.
Such measures only create more problems for the citizens. The Government must ensure the right to life, dignity without taking away their basic rights that compromise their security as well as their peace of mind.
The Government must clarify how such measures serve the purpose of security and it must come up with alternate plans to ensure safety of the citizens without compromising their 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