ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been asked to suspend cellular service in certain areas of the capital from Dec 17 to 19 ahead of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference. Moreover, the capital administration on the recommendation of the Foreign Office may announce a local holiday on Monday.

The interior ministry has asked the PTA to suspend mobile phone service and it is likely that the service will be suspended around routes the delegates will be using and adjacent to areas where they will be staying.

The Red Zone will be sealed as part of security measures for the conference. Officials of the local administration and police said that the Red Zone will be sealed for foolproof security of visiting delegates from 62-member states of the OIC.

Monday likely to be declared local holiday

Well-equipped policemen along with personnel of paramilitary troops and army are being deploying at entry points of the Red Zone, they added.

Entry in the Red Zone will be restricted during the period and only officials concerned and legislators will be allowed to enter along with people residing in the area, the officials said. Except one the gates of Diplomatic Enclave will also be closed.

Over 300 delegates, including 57 foreign ministers of the OIC member countries, are arriving in the capital for the conference. The arrival of foreign delegates will start on Thursday night and continue till Sunday morning.

The conference is scheduled to be held on Sunday after which delegates will depart from Islamabad on Monday, they added.

Police and Rangers will be deployed around the route from Islamabad International Airport to the Red Zone.

In a meeting held on Dec 15 at the Foreign Office, it was decided that Monday will be a local holiday in the capital due to movement and security of the OIC delegations, they added.

In a tweet, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed that cellular service will be suspended in the capital and a directive had been issued to the PTA. Later, the minister said consultation over the matter was in progress.

After consultation, the exact timings for suspension of the cellular service will be decided by tomorrow (Friday), he added.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2021

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