|Eid ‘security’: Cell phone lines to go dead from 6am to 10am today|
27 October 2012
Cellular services will be suspended in select parts of the country on the first day of Eidul Azha between 6am to 10am, Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Friday.
He did not reveal the names of the cities and areas where cellular services will be suspended, saying it was inappropriate to do so at this stage as terrorists could adjust their plans accordingly. “I will be criticised for this, but for me your security is very important… The country is in a state of war,” Malik maintained.
Interior ministry sources, however, revealed that cellular services will be suspended in three major cities in Punjab and Sindh, three areas in the Islamabad Capital Territory and several parts of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Gilgit-Baltistan. They named Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan, Sargodha, Quetta and Peshawar among the major cities where the services will be suspended.
Addressing the media, Malik said the decision was based on recommendations from provincial authorities. He added that a high-level committee had also been set up in this regard under the interior secretary’s supervision. The minister said directions have been issued to the interior secretary, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Information Technology.
Providing details, Malik said the Punjab home department had forwarded names of three cities in the province where the services should be suspended. He added that certain earlier proposals also called for blocking the services in all areas of Sindh and Balochistan. The minister claimed he convinced the provincial authorities to limit the suspension of services to few cities and pockets of the two provinces.
Sources said the move was prompted by intelligence reports that suggested al Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and some other splinter groups could carry out attack in the aforementioned cities and other areas in the country.
At the press conference in Islamabad, the Interior Minister also criticised Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, saying the latter should “think twice” before making statements about staging protests if the cellular services are suspended.
Cellular services were earlier suspended for security reasons during Eidul Fitr and Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh). Detractors say the suspension of services create a nuisance for the public and overseas Pakistanis, apart from inflicting massive losses on cellular companies and by extension, the national exchequer.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT BY OUR CORRESPONDENT FROM LAHORE)
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