The government blocked cellular services in Karachi early on Friday morning, ahead of Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) day.
Mobile networks went down at approximately 2:45am in Karachi and are said to be restored by 11pm, today.
One user, Moiz Kazmi posted on facebook at around 3am “Ufone is gone! Kindly contact me on Facebook inbox or wall until the service resumes!” urging his acquaintances to try and reach him via the internet after the phone networks went off.
Earlier, the government had mulled ordering the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to suspend cellular services in some sensitive areas to foil attempted terrorist attacks on Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) day, said officials associated with the interior ministry. Cellular services were likely to be suspended in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, some areas of Balochistan, Peshawar and areas surrounding the diplomatic enclave inIslamabad, the officials added.
Reports of the networks being switched off were received from Islamabad and Lahore.
On Thursday evening, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said “the government has not yet decided to block cellular services.”
A senior official of PTA, however, said they have been directed by the interior ministry to stay alert to implement the order of suspending cellular services.
Earlier in August, the Interior Ministry had shut cellular services in major shopping districts of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad in anticipation of terrorist attacks. That shut off had lasted almost 15 hours.
“Army and Rangers have been put on alert for the security of the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
“The move aims to protect foreign missions, particularly the US embassy in Islamabad,” a spokesperson of Interior Ministry quoted Malik as saying. The deliberations to put the Army and Rangers on “alert” came after the capital police faced troubles in controlling demonstrators on Thursday.
Malik said the interior ministry had successfully convinced clerics to observe a peaceful Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) day.
Intelligence reports, however, suggest that protests may turn violent on Friday as hardcore clerics have planned to force their way into the diplomatic enclave after clashing with the police, a senior official associated with the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) told The Express Tribune.
Demonstrators, the report suggests, can also target other diplomatic missions located in residential areas of the federal capital, the official added.