ISLAMABAD, NOVEMBER 21, 2018: Cellular services partially remained suspended in different parts of the country in the wake of Rabi ul Awal processions here on Wednesday.
According to local news reports and reliable sources DRM got in touch with, the cellular services were suspended partially for few hours in different cities including Rawalpindi, Karachi and Quetta.
It is not clear for how many hours the services remained suspended. Earlier, Dunya News reported that cellular services would remain suspended in parts of Sindh province from 6 AM to 11 AM and from 9 AM to 2 PM in Quetta.
Rabi ul Awal marks the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and is celebrated by religious groups with zest and fervor every year. Processions are also taken out to mark this day.
Cellular services are suspended frequently as a security measure on different occasions.
Earlier, the Islamabad High Court declared arbitrary network shutdowns illegal in February 2018, but the federal government got a stay on the decision through an intra-court appeal in March just before March 23 Parade celebrations. Since then, it has suspended cellular services on numerous occasions citing security concerns including on Pakistan Day (23 March), July 13 on the arrival of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, September 06 in Rawalpindi/Islamabad owing to Defence day celebrations, September 21 owing to Ashura processions, October 30, 2018 in the wake of Chehlum of Hazrat Imam Hussain and on November 02 in the wake of protests against the Supreme Court verdict acquitting Asia Bibi in blasphemy case.
Human rights activists around the world believe cellular network shutdowns disrupt the routine lives of citizens by limiting their means to communicate and making them unable to contact their family and friends especially in the case of emergencies. Telecom operators and digital services dependent on mobile Internet for their service delivery also lose out on millions of rupees in revenue.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.