ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday directed secretary Interior and chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to submit their replies in a petition seeking access to internet in Parachinar district. A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by a petitioner who is a student belonging to District Parachinar, which was an Agency in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Agency was merged as a district in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). During the hearing, a representative of Ministry of Information Technology (IT) informed the court that Interior Ministry had imposed ban on internet in the area in 2016. Therefore, the court directed the Interior Ministry to submit its reply in this regard and also deputed an authorized person to inform the court why the petitioner and other people of the area were deprived of access to internet. Later, the court deferred the hearing till April 28 for further proceedings in this matter. The petitioner stated in his petition that he is aggrieved because respondent no 1 (Ministry of IT) and respondent no 2 (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) have denied him and the general public the right of access to internet. His counsel contended that access to internet is a constitutionally guaranteed right and is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. He further argued that on account of lockdown, the students are required to have access to the internet. Therefore, he also argued that the students and the general public of the erstwhile FATA cannot be denied their constitutionally guaranteed rights by refusing to give access to internet. Previously, the court had noted in its order, “Both the respondents are directed to nominate their respective authorised officers to appear before this Court on the next date of hearing and explain as to why access to internet has been denied to the petitioner and the general public of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It also said, “The respondents are also directed to submit a report before the next date of hearing. In the meanwhile respondents are directed to take appropriate measures to restore the internet 3G/4G facilities in the former Federally Administered Trial Areas.”