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Partial suspension of mobile phone service likely

Updated September 20, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Though a blanket blackout of cellular service across the country is not under consideration on 9th and 10th Muharram (Thursday and Friday), citizens can face partial suspension of the service in different cities due to security reasons, said sources in cellular companies.

“People can face suspension of service, including suspension of internet, near Imambargahs and other sensitive areas as per requirement of law enforcement agencies,” they said.

The residents of Karachi experienced partial suspension of cellular service in the areas where mourning processions were passing through on Wednesday. They took to social media to report that they stopped receiving mobile signals from the morning.

It is worth mentioning that mobile services are suspended every year during Ashura as part of security measures. However, it is expected that people will face fewer problems as the federal government has declared 9th and 10th Muharram as public holidays.

In the past, mobile phone service used to remain suspended till the processions reach their respective destinations, but for the last few years it was observed that the service was suspended in the selective areas or for less duration as the security situation has improved over the years.

The capital administration has announced that mobile services will remain suspended in Islamabad for 12 hours each on Muharram 9 and 10.

In the past, mobile phone services remained suspended across Islamabad, but for the last two to three years, they were suspended only along the route of the procession, capital administration officials said.

They said the largest Ashura procession was taken out from Markazi Imambargah Asna Ashri G-6 every year.

“The capital administration for the last two years has wanted to avoid the suspension of services and sought recommendations from various authorities and departments in this regard,” one of the officials said, adding that this would not be possible for the time being due to the security situation.

According to a notification issued by the Islamabad district magistrate office, mobile phone services will remain suspended from 9am to 9pm in G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9, F-6, F-7, F-11 and I-10.

Police said three processions were taken out in the capital on Wednesday from the G-9 Imambargah, G-7/2 Imambargah and from a house in G-7/3. About 1,000 security personnel guarded each of the processions and 2,500 personnel will ensure security of the 9th Muharram processions.

A contingent of Rangers will also be deployed as a quick response force, police said. CCTV cameras have been installed along the route of processions and surveillance will also be conducted via the Safe City Project and an especially set up control room.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018