Mobile services were suspended in Karachi and Nawabshah on Sunday, Muharram 8, as part of measures taken to ensure security of major processions that are to be taken out today.
Sindh Home Department Secretary Abdul Kabir Qazi confirmed that mobile services were suspended in 245 areas in Karachi. He said that the areas where cellular signals had been jammed are places where major processions and majalis are held. He said that those areas had been pointed out as 'flash points'.
Cellular services were suspended till evening in Islamabad's G-9 sector to ensure the security of a procession that was taken out from an imambargah in the area, Islamabad police spokesperson said.
Deputy Inspector General of Shaheed Benazirabad division Mazhar Nawaz Shaikh, told Dawn that cellular services will remain suspended Nawabshah, as well as Sanghar and Naushahro Feroze districts until evening on the 8th, 9th and 10th of Muharram. He said that services will be suspended in all areas where processions were planned, including small towns.
Signals of major cellular companies, including Jazz, Telenor, Ufone and Zong were suspended in the city since 10.30am.
In Rawalpindi, Capital City Police Officer Faisal Rana said that 3,000 security personnel had been deployed to ensure the safety of the processions that were being taken out. Mobile services will not be suspended in the city today.
Security on Muharram 9
In Islamabad, mobile services will remain suspended on Muharram 9 in the G-6 sector, from where the main procession of the day will be taken out. Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, Mohammad Amir Zulfiqar said that the strict security measures are in place to prevent any untoward incident.
A security sweep of the procession's route will be carried out via robots and the area will be sealed with containers and barbed wires.
The main procession, that will be taken out from the Isna Ashri imambargah in G-6 and will culminate at the same point, will be monitored through Safe City cameras and helicopters, Zulfiqar said.
The procession will be accompanied by police and Rangers officials and security officials will also be posted on the rooftops of all buildings along the route.
Section 144 will be imposed in areas from where the processions will pass on the Muharram 9.
The capital's administration urged citizens, that will not be part of the processions, not to observe the activities from their balconies or shops. Residents have also been advised to avoid travelling from G-9.
IGP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mohammad Naeem Khan, in a press talk, said that central monitoring teams had been formed that will visit several districts over Ashura to ensure that "steps taken on the ground are as per the strategy and security plan which has been approved".
About 50,000 security personnel, out of which 40,000 will be police officers, will be deployed to ensure that Muharram activities are carried out smoothly, he said.
He told reporters that meetings had also been held with the army and other law enforcement agencies and expressed hope that Ashura would be observed peacefully.
A written request, a copy of which is available with DawnNewsTV, has been sent by the superintendent of police (operations), CCPO Peshawar to the provincial IGP (operations) asking permission for the suspension of mobile services in the jurisdiction of 13 police stations. There has been no formal response to the request so far.
Khan said that the police department will try to minimise the time duration of the suspension of mobile services this year so that residents will not face inconvenience.