Pakistan Elections 2024: Terrorism Threats Prompt Mobile Shutdown Amid Controversial Vote

Pakistan Elections 2024: Terrorism Threats Prompt Mobile Shutdown Amid Controversial Vote
Organiser, Voice of the Nation, available at: Pakistan Elections 2024: Mobile services temporarily suspended across the country amid security concerns (


Eleonora Bruno

Pakistan Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

The election in Pakistan marks a pivotal moment nearly two years after the former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted following a no-confidence vote on April 10th, 2022. Polls have closed amid a climate of terrorism concerns, prompting authorities to shut down mobile communications and data services as millions cast their votes in a contentious election. The decision to suspend mobile services was attributed to the heightened risk of terrorist activities, according to the Ministry of the Interior. Vote counting commenced immediately after polling concluded. Results began to emerge nearly 12 hours after polling concluded for national and provincial assemblies on Thursday. 

The elections were marred by violence instigated by armed groups and faced widespread criticism due to the suspension of mobile phone services, which led to accusations of "political engineering." Experts had predicted a low turnout, exacerbated by the mobile service suspension, making it challenging for voters to locate polling stations. Although incidents of violence were isolated, with casualties reported in certain regions, the overall security situation remained tense. The shutdown received criticism from various quarters, including opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who demanded the immediate restoration of services. Imran Khan, barred from standing due to corruption charges, criticised the internet blackout as a "cowardly act." 

The election saw stringent security measures across polling stations, with border crossings sealed for enhanced security. Despite the challenges, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailed the election as "absolutely fair," expressing optimism about the future if his party emerges victorious. However, concerns persist regarding electoral fairness, with reports of irregularities such as the exclusion of female polling agents and alleged interference by the military. Multiple nations have urged authorities to investigate alleged irregularities in Pakistan's general elections as the process of counting votes unfolds. The election outcome remains uncertain amidst economic struggles and rising violence, with millions grappling with inflation and security threats. The Election Commission of Pakistan has designated a significant number of polling stations as "sensitive" or "most sensitive," underscoring the potential for electoral violence. Strict regulations on election coverage remain in effect until midnight on Thursday, reflecting the ongoing scrutiny surrounding the electoral process.

Sources and further readings:

[1] BBC, ‘Pakistan elections 2024: Polls close in vote marred by mobile shutdown’ (9 February 2024)  [Accessed 11 February 2024]

[2] Aljazeera, “Serious concerns’: World reacts to Pakistan polls as vote count continues’ (9 February 2024) [Accessed 11 February 2024]