ISLAMABAD: Mobile phones will go silent on the 9th and 10th of Muharram (Monday and Tuesday) at a number of places in the country identified as sensitive by security agencies.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Saturday that cellular services could be jammed for duration to be specified later.
In a statement, he said directives had been issued to maintain a high level of alertness in the run-up to Ashura.
He said the interior ministry had deployed 32,695 personnel from the Army, Rangers, Frontier Corps and Frontier Constabulary in 54 districts across the country to assist provincial governments in maintaining law and order during Muharram.
In addition, 12 helicopters have been stationed at various places to extend air support to security arrangements.
He said all Muharram-related activities were being monitored from the control room of the interior ministry round the clock. “We are in constant touch with provinces to ensure maximum security for mourners and the general public,” he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said his ministry was coordinating with intelligence agencies and information regarding threat to any specific area was being shared with them.
Sources in the ministry told Dawn that provincial governments had been asked to identify sensitive locations and convey to the ministry the assistance needed for provision of security there.
All provinces, excluding Balochistan, had shared information with the interior ministry.
Chaudhry Nisar said requests for suspension of mobile phones had also been received from provincial governments.
When contacted, a senior official of the interior ministry refused to identify cities where the mobile phone service would remain suspended on 9th and 10 of Muharram, citing security reasons.
He said he could not disclose the timing of the suspension of the service either.
Last year, the mobile phone service remained suspended in more than 30 cities, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Multan, Jhang, Sheikhupura, Kohat and Attock.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd , 2014