ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has ordered mobile phone services to be shut down in several parts of Islamabad for an indefinite period, a spokesman of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said on Tuesday.
According to the PTA, mobile phone services may remain suspended in several parts of the federal capital for up to the next three days.
PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran told Dawn: “The interior ministry has issued directions to suspend mobile phone and wireless services.“
He said that wireless internet services will also be suspended.
A source from the telecommunications sector said they received directions from PTA to suspend mobile phone services in separate parts of Punjab, and that they will be notified at intervals to block signals at junctions where the protesters are heading.
According to a notification, the suspension will start from 7pm on Tuesday.
"In pursuant to the directions received from National Counter Terrorism Authority (NCTA), Ministry of Interior (MoI), I am directed to request closure of Mobile, Wireless and Data Services from 1900 hours on 12th August, 2014 till further orders in Red Zone Areas of Presidency and Convention Center Islamabad (i.e. area starting from Margalla Road to Kashmir Chowk & China Chowk till Quaid-e-Azam University) to help Law Enforcement Agencies to avoid any untoward incident and security threats, for Taqreebat -e-Youm-E-Azadi," said a notification by the PTA.
Cellular services have already been shut down in some parts of the city.
The measure comes just days ahead of anti-government marches lead by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri.
The planned demonstrations have unnerved Sharif's fledgling civilian government. The Punjab government has blocked roads in Model Town that lead to the Minhajul Quran secretariat.
Some members of the ruling party fear the protesters may be getting support from elements in the powerful military, which has had a series of disagreements with the government. The military denies meddling in politics.