Logged off: Website of Balochistan Assembly suspended
By: Azam Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan Assembly has ignominiously disappeared from cyberspace after it failed to clear the dues of the company that manages its website.
The provincial assembly has not made any payments to its web service provider for the last four months. Now when one clicks on the website, instead of information on legislation and legislators, the words “account suspended” appear on the screen.
A representative of Aesthetic Technology that runs over 700 websites, including the website of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, said that no one from Balochistan Assembly is available to clear the meagre amount of Rs42,000. “Our rates are as nominal as Rs1,000 per month,” he said, adding that “not even a single official of the assembly even bothered to contact the company for the restoration of the service that was suspended for a few days.”
During the last couple of months, the web service provider got through to some officers concerned to warn them about the website’s suspension if the bills were not paid. “They kept dodging us. One said they’ll contact us soon after talking to someone else, another officer said they’ll call back after namaz. But no one ever calls back.”
Mir Din Shahbani, the assistant manager of the provincial assembly, who is responsible for the submission of financial dues, was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile, Azam Dawi, the secretary of Balochistan Assembly, had no idea about the suspended website. “The relevant officers will be contacted and informed about this,” he told The Express Tribune.
Officials claim no one from the government bothered to clear the dues to make it functional for the general public “to know the performance of their representatives”, one official added.
Assembly websites are supposed to publish the number of representatives of the assembly, their performance details, legislations passed, details of sessions and upcoming projects.
The official pointed out that suspension of the website is a violation of Article 19-A as it deprives the public of the fundamental right to information about their representatives.
Websites of other assemblies
The representative of Aesthetic Technology said that the official website of the K-P Assembly has been redesigned to make it more public-friendly.
The updated version of K-P Assembly’s website shows pictures of heritage sites of the province, such as Qissa Khawani, the oldest bazaar in Peshawar, Khyber Gate, Islamia College, Peshawar, and the Peshawar Museum. They have also uploaded photos of the Pakistan Army’s relief efforts in the flood-hit areas.
The K-P and Sindh Assembly’s websites have been designed and developed with the support of USAID Pakistan under its Legislative Strengthening Project. “This is your online guide to your representatives, current activities of the assembly, acts and bills of the assembly as well as details of committees,” the contents of both the websites read.
The website of Punjab assembly is also not too different from its counterparts. An Urdu version is also available of Sindh and Punjab assemblies’ websites.