Eidul Fitr security: Cellphone services blocked in major cities

Published: August 20, 2012
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Interior ministry alerts cellphone companies that it may ask them to cut off communication immediately. PHOTO: FILE

Interior ministry alerts cellphone companies that it may ask them to cut off communication immediately. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The government has decided to suspend cellphone services in at least four major cities in the wake of intelligence reports that terrorists may attempt to target key installations in sensitive areas.

The decision was taken in response to a request by provincial governments on the eve of Eidul Fitr, according to a press statement released by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday.

“On the request of provincial governments, it was decided that mobile phone services will be suspended in some cities/areas of the respective provinces as per available intelligence,” the statement read.

Cellular company sources confirmed that they were asked by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block services in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta. Services were to remain blocked from 8pm on Sunday till 11am today (Monday).

PTA could send an additional list of cities where services are to remain blocked during this time, the sources added.

A letter sent from PTA to cellular companies, available with The Express Tribune, stated: “In order to help law enforcement agencies to improve the security situation and to avoid any untoward incident in different parts of the country, including provincial capitals, mobile services will be required to be closed from evening 19th August, 2012 to morning 20th August, 2012. Therefore, all mobile operators are requested to be ready as the area names will be communicated at a very short notice…”

The move to block cellular services is an attempt to ensure security in sensitive areas of Balochistan, as well as to detect acts of terrorism in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, officials
said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf appreciated the efforts made by Interior Minister Rehman Malik to bolster security in the country and achieve headway in investigations into the recent incidents in Gilgit and Kamra airbase. He was talking to the interior minister who called on him at the PM House to update him on the security situation.

He also briefed the PM on measures taken recently by the interior ministry for the improvement of the situation.

The premier, who had earlier met a delegation of overseas Pakistanis from Britain, was told that the fee for new passports was being increased. In response, he told Malik to drop the fee hike plans.

Subsequently the interior minister assured the Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf that overseas Pakistanis would be charged the same as before and no fee hike would be considered.

The prime minister also took up the matter of absence of provision of machine-readable passports and national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis (Nicorp) for those living in Bradford, which was creating hardships for them.

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • kaalchakra
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:33AM

    This is a disgrace, shameful! Pakistanis are not like Indians who will get affected by stupid SMSs. That too from other Pakistanis themselves? This is worse than Indian government blocking Pakistani SMSs…Zardari gotta go after this episode.

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  • alas
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:34AM

    I fail to understand what sort of Islamic jehadism and service is it….Terrorism is plain terrorism…whether in retaliation or in any form…
    Islam…means peace….I just do not know what these stupid terrorists are trying to achieve……
    Terrorism is not Islam….it is your contorted version…not ours……..
    just due to the terrorism….people have to undergo hardships of ban on pillion riding, mobile service disconnection, worry during visit to bazaar and mosque, unsafety of schools and what not,……..

    Recommend

  • hjju
    Aug 20, 2012 - 4:43AM

    all USA and Indian terrorist have satellite mobile phone

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 20, 2012 - 4:44AM

    We finally found out that this damn sim is the mother of all problems. Now we can win war on terror.

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  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Aug 20, 2012 - 5:49AM

    @hijju
    It appears that you missed the Pakistanis.

    Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Aug 20, 2012 - 5:50AM

    I am not sure why they jeft out the land lines and the internet!

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  • Aug 20, 2012 - 5:57AM

    Are we heading back to Stoneage ?

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  • Not me
    Aug 20, 2012 - 6:01AM

    Why not impose curfew in entire country?….total failure of the government

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  • Ali Rashid
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:51AM

    Mobile phones are attached to bombs and are used to dentonate them. The point of blocking the service wasn’t just to create hindrance for terrorists but also so they won’t be able to dentonate bombs through cellphones.

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  • dalwala
    Aug 20, 2012 - 8:33AM

    I guess we are not worthy of being civilized and live in the 21st century with rest of the world… I guess we go back to our dal plate and survive as our fore fathers did…

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  • zehra
    Aug 20, 2012 - 8:39AM

    i dnt knw why it is so big a deal!! would it have been better if blast hotay reht and we wold have gotten news of blasts on our mobiles!!

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  • Visibly Invisible
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:04AM

    This is what freedom feels like.

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  • gul bahadur
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:04AM

    This is a deliberate attempt of the govt to frighten people. Next step would be to order people “STAY INSIDE YOUR HOME”.Recommend

  • Fools
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:06AM

    So use jammers in sensitive situations!… Rather than shutting down the network.Recommend

  • Atif
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:21AM

    By the way are bomb blasts suicidal or are they triggered by cell phones. Will the interior ministry ever admit the truth or will it keep on labeling every explosion as a suicide attempt?

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  • Hasan
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:23AM

    What next? Imposing a curfew so that we cannot go out and thus remain ‘safe’ inside our homes? And when the terrorists start attacking our homes (actually they already have) just tell us to leave the country ….. Recommend

  • Ravi
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:44AM

    IDD MUBARAK !!!!

    Recommend

  • Jamal
    Aug 23, 2012 - 9:39AM

    Blocking SIMs is not a solution to curb terrorism. If mobile SIMs are used in terrorist activities, the question arises why is their sale so easy, you can even get a number of your choice from a tuck shop without giving your personal data. Why does PTA not take notice of SIMs being sold everywhere? The mechanism of selling new mobile phone connection should be made comprehensive and transparent. New SIMs should only be sold at Company Offices and Franchises and not everywhere.

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