LAHORE, Oct 24: The likely suspension of cellphone service on Eid to counter possible acts of terrorism has perturbed the cellular operators.

They foresee problems similar to those they faced during Eidul Fitr (celebrated in August) when the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority switched off the service for several hours in some cities on the instructions of interior ministry.

The exercise was repeated last month on the occasion of Yaum-i-Ishq-i-Rasool.

The suspension of service in August cut off more than 30 per cent active subscribers. This was despite the fact that on all such occasions voice and data traffic swells by more than 20 per cent, according to an official of a cellphone operator.

“Not only did the five operators suffer huge losses, the government also lost about Rs300 million in taxes,” he remarked.

The PTA (Re-Organisation) clause 54 states: “During a war or hostilities against Pakistan by any foreign power or internal aggression or for the defence or security of Pakistan, the federal government shall have preference and priority in the telecommunication system over any licensee.

“Upon proclamation of emergency by the president, the federal government may suspend or modify all or any order or licences made or issued under this act or cause suspension of operation, functions or services of any licensee for such time as it may deem necessary, provided the federal government will compensate any licensee whose facilities or services are affected by any action under this sub-section.”

The official said there was no justification to suspend the service in the name of countering terrorism during Eid days. “Why doesn’t the interior ministry suspend the service during huge rallies of political parties on the same grounds?”

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