KARACHI, Nov 16: While cellular services were suspended by the government from Friday morning till evening in the wake of intelligence reports about terrorism activity feared in the city on the 1st of Muharram, a senior police officer has said that the threat is not yet over.

The suspension of cellphone communication for the entire day caused a lot of inconvenience to millions of residents though it proved effective in averting a terrorist activity and curbing the number of killings on Friday as it was after a long time that the city witnessed only one murder on a single day, police said.

They said it was feared that cell phones could be used to coordinate attacks or trigger a remote-controlled bomb on Muharram 1st after the rise in sectarian killings in the city over recent weeks.

“Yes, there are several intelligence reports suggesting terrorists could strike during the month of Muharram, but as it was the first day of the month the cellular service was probably suspended to ensure a peaceful beginning of Muharram,” said DIG (east) Shahid Hayat.

However, he added, threat of terrorism still loomed large in the backdrop of recent sectarian attacks carried out in the city and the intelligence reports.

Last year Muharram began on a bitter note when two scouts had been killed by terrorists in a drive-by shooting, leading to a breakdown of law and order on M.A. Jinnah Road.

However, this year the ongoing sectarian strife taking place in the city had already fuelled the situation, remarked a senior police officer.

The measure taken by the federal authorities proved effective as far as law and order situation was concerned but people faced immense hardships due to the suspension of cellular services since 10am. It was around 6pm when the services were gradually restored by operators on a directive of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

Businesses also suffered losses due to the sudden announcement of cellular service suspension. Stock brokers who keep in touch with their client through cell phone were perhaps the hardest hit.

Earlier the city faced similar situation when cellular phone services were placed under suspension at least on three occasions — Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and Youm Ishq-i-Rasool.

Citing intelligence reports, the federal interior minister following a meeting on Muharram security arrangements had on Thursday evening said that terrorists could use motorcycle to strike in Karachi, Quetta and other major cities and called for a ban on motorbike riding on Friday in addition to suspension of cellular services.

After the announcement, the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court late Thursday night set aside the motorbike riding ban order.


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