Despite IHC Order, Internet Not Restored In Tribal Districts

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By Ahmad Saeed

Mass Communication student Sayed Muhammad, from the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) had filed a petition at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the suspension and unavailability of the internet in the merged tribal districts, formerly known as FATA.

In his case, Muhammad had pleaded that the UN had declared the availability of the internet as one of the basic human rights but still the people of these areas were being denied this right on the pretext of the security situation. He requested the court to direct the federal and provincial authorities to immediately resume internet services in the area, as tens of thousands of tribal students were being deprived of their education from online classes during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The court on April 13, 2020, ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to immediately restore 3G/4G internet services in Khyber Pakhtunkwas’ (KP) tribal districts and submit a compliance report on April 20, 2020.

But, on the next hearing, the authorities told the court that they could not restore the internet in the area as the Ministry of Interior did not give them a go-ahead. The court issued notices and sought a reply from the ministry of interior on April 28th. interviewed Muhammad Sayed to know more about his petitions and the hardships being faced by tribal people.

Here is Sayed Muhammad’s stance:

Thousands of tribal students are being deprived of the internet facility and thousands of tribal people who are now overseas for work are contacting me and asking me what happened to the petition. They cannot even see their families on video calls because their families don’t have access to the internet.”

“If you do not disconnect the internet in Islamabad and if there is internet available at the Wagha border right next to India and even at the Iran border in Balochistan, then what fault have we (tribal people) committed?” he questions.