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Wires cut, internet blocked ahead of Nawaz Sharif's online address at Lahore conference

November 23, 2021 10:00 AM

Lahore, A scheduled speech by former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the closing session of the 3rd Asma Jahangir Conference saw all the wires cut at the event venue and the Internet blocked for two hours.

Nawaz Sharif, who is in London, was scheduled to address the audience online at the closing session of the two-day conference on Sunday.

Organiser of the event Munizae Jahangir said they were trying to find a way to connect to the speech but the wires had been cut at the marquee, adding that “rats do such things”, reported.

Munizae Jahangir said, “We believe in freedom of expression, that is why this non-partisan platform is open to everyone and we condemn the muzzling of the closing session where Mian Nawaz Sharif was going to make an address.”

Supreme Court Bar Association’s President Ahsan Bhoon announced that all the wires had been cut at the marquee and it was not something that could be fixed quickly.

He recited an Urdu verse; “Jinhon nae basti ujarr dali/ kabhi tau un ka hisab ho ga. (Those who have destroyed the habitation, will have to face the consequences some day).”

He said, “We will have to stand ourselves for the survival of this country. We have to break all chains and work for democracy. Do not accept offices only. Talk about changing the system."

The organisers of the Asma Jahangir Conference in a statement said they “regret the state’s highhandedness after it blocked the three-time elected former PM’s speech at the conference’s closing ceremony”.

The Internet provider was restrained from providing the organisers with internet services for the conference two hours before the closing, when Sharif’s speech was supposed to start. This included cutting off of cellular internet services two hours before the closing session, in the vicinity of the hotel where the event was organised.

“The organisers of Asma Jahangir Conference 21 which includes the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council, and the AGHS, strongly condemn this act and consider it an onslaught on the freedom of expression. These steps can never deter our resolve to give voice to the marginalised communities,” the statement said.

Asma Jahangir was a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

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