The ongoing proceedings show that the Islamabad High Court holds a favourable view towards the restoration of internet services to former tribal areas and specifically Parachinar as demanded by the petitioner. The security situation in the former FATA regions remained one of Pakistan’s biggest challenges over the last decade. Relative peace has only recently returned, achieved at a great cost paid by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and the common people.

Special circumstances may warrant special measures, but they often tend to cause serious difficulties for citizens, and cannot remain in place indefinitely. Since militants have been driven out of the former federally administered territories, perhaps it is time to bring back internet services to an area that needs to be brought up to par with the rest of the country in terms of development and education.

Lack of access to internet means that the people of Parachinar are unable to enjoy the dividends of normalcy returning to the region and remain deprived of their constitutional rights. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial for students to have online access to educational content. The internet is not a luxury but a necessity of modern life. Denial of this essential service means denial of opportunity.

The 25th amendment is a landmark achievement, which territorially integrated the FATA with the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The federal government plans to spend billions of rupees as part of a 10-year socioeconomic development plan for former FATA. It will include major infrastructure and irrigation projects, mineral development programmes, establishment of special economic zones, and plans for health and education and more. If this critical objective of mainstreaming and integration of former FATA areas is to be completed, then the government will have to guarantee provision of all constitutional rights to the residents.