ISLAMABAD, November 30, 2017: The provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan have requested Interior Ministry to shut down mobile/internet network in the wake of 12 RAbiulawal on December 01, 2017.
According to the letter available with Digital Rights Monitor, Sindh Home Department requested Interior Ministry to shut down mobile/internet in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur from 8AM till 8PM. Meanwhile, the Baluchistan Home Department requested for mobile network shutdown in Quetta city during 8AM-2PM.
Citing reason for such request, the Sindh Home Department noted that the request was being made owing to “ongoing operation Radd-ul-Fassad against terrorist organization and threat perception during 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal.” On similar lines, the Balochistan government also requested for the shutdown.
Meanwhile, it is not clear whether Punjab and Federal capital will also face mobile network suspension.
On the other, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, while talking to the scribe, insisted that it did not receive any notification of suspension of cellular and internet services. “We will block services if Interior Ministry identifies areas,” said the PTA spokesperson.
This is not the first time that the government is planning to disrupt the mobile network. On different occasions, the government has taken down mobile and internet services across the country and also in specific areas in wake of security concerns. Earlier in October 2017, mobile networks were similarly suspended for three days in different cities across Pakistan in wake of Ashura processions. Recently on November 09-November 15, 2017, mobile and internet services were suspended in Faizabad and adjacent areas owing to protest camp of Tehreek e Labaik ya Rasulallah. Also, on November 25-26, 2017 mobile and some social media sites were taken down across the country in wake of Tehreek e Labaik ya Rasulallah protests. Additionally, since February 2017, mobile internet is suspended in different districts of Balochistan including Killa Abdullah and Kalat.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is received.
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.