Internet Shut Down on Pakistan's Election Day

    Internet Shut Down on Pakistan's Election Day
    Photo: Rebecca Conway/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • Internet data and call services were shut down in Pakistan 10 minutes before the polls opened for the general election, with the government calling the outages "security measures" due to recent "incidents of terrorism." While WiFi was reportedly still working, voters claimed they were unable to book taxis to go to the polling stations and couldn't coordinate travel to the ballot box with family members.

    • Over 128M registered voters went out to vote for more than 5K candidates running for 336 seats. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose PTI party won the last election before he was ousted two years ago, is ineligible to run after being convicted of corruption. The two leading candidates are now former three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (Nawaz party) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (PPP party).

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    It seems that former Prime Minister Sharif and his party are headed toward victory again — this time, to help fix the economic and terrorism challenges that have grown in the country since he left. While some have criticized the internet outage as a method of suppression, the bombings and shootings that occurred throughout election day have shown the necessity of measures to stop even worse attacks from hindering the people's ability to vote.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The government hinted at shutting down the internet before the election, and today it did. If the fraudulent arrests, convictions, and intimidation of Khan and his party — the most popular candidates in the country — weren't enough to expose this illegitimate regime, then nothing will. The US State Department in 2022 urged Pakistan to remove Khan from office, and ever since, the military regime has used every tool it has to make sure of it.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 21% chance of civil war in Pakistan before 2036, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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