ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has told the Islamabad High Court that the government wants to provide 3G and 4G broadband services in the tribal districts but time is needed to reconnect the area to the internet.
M Riaz, a section officer of the Interior Ministry, appeared before the court on behalf of the federation in the hearing of a petition filed by a student from the tribal area studying at an educational institution in Islamabad.
The petitioner had asked the court to order the authorities to restore internet services in the tribal districts so that they could take online classes during the lockdown in the country.
Petitioner's counsel said that due to the non-availability of the internet in the tribal districts, students in these areas would not be able to get marks in the current semester.
After hearing the government's position, Chief Justice of the High Court Athar Minallah remarked that the tribal districts are part of Pakistan and its residents have all the constitutional rights.
Justice Athar Minallah said that this is not occupied by Kashmir so the people of these areas are free to exercise their constitutional rights.
The court said that the federal government had not refused to provide internet facilities to the tribal districts.
However, it appears that the past situation will require the government and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to build infrastructure in the affected areas.
The court said that the people of the tribal districts had suffered for decades and were deprived of their rights due to lack of law, insurgency, and government shortcomings but now peace has been restored in these areas.
The court said that peace and government writ had been restored due to the sacrifices of tribal people, armed forces, and civilian authorities.
The Chief Justice of the High Court said that now that peace has been restored, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the constitutional rights of the people of the region and the authorities to take necessary steps in this regard.
He further said that access to the internet is undoubtedly a fundamental right under the constitution as it has inevitably affected the quality of life.
The court expects that steps will be taken to restore internet services in the tribal districts as soon as possible so that residents can enjoy their basic rights.