Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, on orders of Interior Ministry, has directed all mobile phone operators to remain prepared to shut down cellular services in selected parts of country during Chand Raat for security reasons.
We have received confirmation from cellular companies that they are asked by regulator to block cellular services in following four cities:
Order said that service in four upmentioned cities will remain blocked from 8 PM today (i.e. August 19th 2012) till 11 AM tomorrow morning (i.e. August 20th, 2012).
PTA said it could add more cities in blockade list, where service is supposed to remain blocked during this time.
Cellular operators are complying with the orders, we have confirmed.
An enforcement letter from PTA issued earlier today said that mobile phone operators should remain prepared for immediately shutting down the cellular services in selected urban cities, including provincial capitals, from evening 19th August to morning of August 20th, 2012.
PTA said that names of areas/cities will be communicated to cellular operators later, when and if required.
Mr. Rehman Malik, Head of Interior Ministry, has also explained that mobile phone networks are likely to remain blocked in selected parts of country, amid security threats. However, he said, service will remain down for not more than few hours only.
Following is the letter sent out to all cellular operators:
In order to help Law Enforcement Agencies to improve the security situation and to avoid any untoward incident in different parts of the country including provincial capitals, mobile services will be required to be closed from evening 19th August, 2012 to morning 20th August, 2012.
Therefore, all mobile operators are requested to be ready as the area names will be communicated at a very short notice, please..
Muhammad Ali,Deputy Director (Enforcement),
Enforcement Division, PTA HQ,F-5/1, Islamabad.
It merits mentioning here that cellular networks remain over capacity during Chaand Raat and might give a feeling that services are blocked. You can easily determine the service status by noticing the signals available over your phone. Just in case, cellular signal bars will disappear in case of service shut down.
Service shut down (or let me say this adventure of Mr. Rehman Malik) is causing large scale disruption, especially when its Eid Night and people make/receive calls from their loved ones with-in and outside Pakistan. Cellular companies are complying with the orders, but are cursing the government for such ill-advised decision.
It is advised to use landline telephone services for any urgent needs during possible cellular shut down.