The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared illegal the suspension of mobile phone services on the pretext of 'security concerns'.

It is common practice for mobile phone services to be suspended in Pakistan's cities on 'sensitive' religious events like Ashura and Eid Miladun Nabi.

Justice Athar Minallah, announcing a verdict reserved on September 21, 2017 on multiple petitions filed by a citizen and telecommunication companies, said that suspension of mobile phone services by the federal government and other authorities is illegal and tantamount to exceeding their authority.

The petitions had argued that suspension of mobile phones around major events is a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens and against the Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act 1996.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had responded saying that it was the government which issued the orders for suspension, while the federal government had defended itself by relying on Article 54 (2) of the Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act 1996, which states: "During a war or hostilities against Pakistan by any foreign power or internal aggression or for the defence or security of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall have preference and priority in telecommunication systems over any license."

A report released in 2015 highlighted the socio-economic losses incurred by the country due to suspension of cell phone services. It said that the suspension has adverse impacts on the economy and productivity at work while also restricts access to emergency services and contributes to an increase in panic in the country.

Opinion

Elite politics

Elite politics

For most part, Pakistan’s fractious politics has seen fierce govt-opposition conflict and mutual efforts to upend each other.

Editorial

Extension legacy
Updated 05 Dec, 2022

Extension legacy

The practice of having individuals carry on well beyond their time is up.
Dodging accountability
05 Dec, 2022

Dodging accountability

A WARNING carried in these pages in August appears to have gone completely unheeded. Months ago, as the government...
Double standards
05 Dec, 2022

Double standards

IN a globalised world, if states fail to protect the human rights of their citizens, or worse, participate in ...
Retracted offer
04 Dec, 2022

Retracted offer

WITH so many U-turns under his belt, it was hardly surprising when on Saturday, PTI chairman Imran Khan decided to...
Embassy attack
Updated 04 Dec, 2022

Embassy attack

The Taliban should have enhanced the existing security arrangements.
Smog season
04 Dec, 2022

Smog season

FOR the past week, major cities of Pakistan have been among the top most polluted cities in the world. Lahore ranked...