ISLAMABAD, Nov 26: As the rest of the country saw a blockade of cellphone communications, during Ashura, the capital city remained connected throughout the day.

“Luckily when I woke up in the morning, I saw signals and I thought it’s a miracle but it emerged later in the day that mobiles were operative in Islamabad city only,” said Maham Mushtaq, a graduate student residing in sector I-8.

According to an official of Ministry of Information & Technology, the ministry of interior had only ordered partial closure of cellular network in the city, where the Imambargahs were located.

“The PTA had issued notification of partial closure of mobile phones in the capital, since no procession was in place in the city,” maintained the ministry official.

However, in sector F-11, the mobile phone service was down. “We had closed down few of the mobile phone sites because it was located close to Imambargahs and part of the sector is also in rural area,” remarked one mobile phone company’s network engineer.

The engineer maintained that almost all the cell phone sites were operative but few of the services were withheld.

“Email and social websites services on Black Berry were down,” said one user Farah Hussain.

She said that “my Black Berry phone was receiving texts and calls but all the other services like Facebook was down and I failed to get any email on my handset.”

One user told Dawn that the services of mobile phone was limited to a few posh sectors but “there was no service in sector G-7 and G-6.”

The user said that during a routine visit to a friend, in sector F-10, his mobile phone was working.

However, an interior ministry official, refusing to share his name, claimed: “We have directed the mobile phone companies in the capital city to partially run their services.”

He said that mobile phone services were blocked across Pakistan, as per directive of the ministry.

“There was no threat in the city, since the main procession was in Rawalpindi. Besides, mobile phone services were down in Rawalpindi, close to IJ Principal Road,” said the official.

He said that services of mobile phones were operative, since it was a decision taken by the security officials of the federal government.

Asked whether it was a VIP move to bailout the citizens residing in the capital city, the official noted: “It’s not about declaring the capital as a VIP city, it was only done because the intelligence reports had perceived threat reports about the rest of the country and not Islamabad.”

The official maintained that the police and security officials in the city remained on red alert, during Sunday, as per standard operating procedure.

Updated Nov 27, 2012 12:13am

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