Red Zone: Security on high alert, mobile phone services suspended

Published August 24, 2014
PAT supporters call prayers on Dr Tahirul Qadri’s directives in Islamabad on Saturday night. – Photo courtesy: PAT Facebook page
PAT supporters call prayers on Dr Tahirul Qadri’s directives in Islamabad on Saturday night. – Photo courtesy: PAT Facebook page
PAT supporters call prayers on Dr Tahirul Qadri’s directives in Islamabad on Saturday night. – Photo courtesy: PAT Facebook page
PAT supporters call prayers on Dr Tahirul Qadri’s directives in Islamabad on Saturday night. – Photo courtesy: PAT Facebook page

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to thwart threats of terrorism in the federal capital’s Red Zone, where Imran Khan’s PTI and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s PAT supporters are staging an anti-government protest sit-in, the interior ministry on Saturday night suspended mobile phone services, DawnNews reported.

Islamabad’s Red Zone is one of the most sensitive areas of the country which holds sensitive government installations including Parliament, Supreme Court and foreign diplomatic enclave. However, all these offices will remain closed on Sunday.

A spokesman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said in a statement issued here that the cellular services were suspended upon directives of the interior ministry. Sources told DawnNews that the decision was taken in the wake of severe security threats.

Police sources said that PTI Chairman Imran Khan has serious threats on his life, following which the security of the Red Zone was put on high alert and additional contingents of security personnel were deployed at all entry and exit routes of the capital.

District administration and intelligence officials along with police officers have also been alerted by the authorities.

Meanwhile, PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri alleged that the government itself has planted terrorists in the Red Zone to target the marchers. He directed his supporters to call prayers seven times to thwart any untoward incident.

He claimed that the government wanted to scare off the protesters by spreading such news. The anti-government cleric said that by suspending mobile phone services, the rulers have isolated the Red Zone from rest of the country.

Qadri warned the government against taking any action against him or his supporters, saying that an equal revenge will be taken for any loss of life.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri have led thousands of supporters demonstrating outside the Parliament this week calling for Prime Minister Sharif to go.

Qadri and Khan's protest movements are not formally allied and have different goals, beyond toppling the government. But their combined pressure – and numbers – has given extra heft to the rallies.

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