Even as Pakistan continues to attack India on the communication restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, it had no qualms in suspending Internet services in some parts of the country-Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi, just ahead of Muharram.
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority(PTA) said that mobile phone services would remain suspended on Monday and Tuesday, as Shia sect of Muslim will observe their most important ritual on Tuesday. Besides, a pre-emptive move of heightened security cover has been deployed in select parts of all major cities to avoid clashes and violent flare-up.
While the time duration for which the Internet suspension would be enforced hasn’t been revealed but it is expected that the areas through which Muharram procession will pass might experience snapping of services from morning till evening 6 PM. The deputy inspectors general (DIGs), commissioners and deputy commissioners of the various cities will ascertain when and where mobile phone network will be cut and the duration of the suspension. The Sindh government has also placed a ban on pillion riding on motorcycles for three days.
According to a senior official in the Ministry of Interior, a specific notification has been issued by the government which said that cellular services would be suspended in areas identified and recommended by the district administrations across Pakistan for the safety of mourners during the procession. The Ministry of Interior has issued an order to PTA to snap all mobile and broadband services in the select areas.
Thousands of police personnel have been deployed on the routes of the Muharram procession in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Karachi and other cities. According to PTA officials, such arrangements were historically made at the last moment. However, the Pakistani government, this year, has proceeded to take advance action in limiting a potential outbreak of violence usually accompanying Muharram processions.