Over 80 million mobile phone connections in Pakistan were forcefully put on radio silence for over 40 hours in two days, after a directive was issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to all cellular operators of Pakistan to suspend mobile phone service amid security threats on 9th and 10th of Muharram i.e. November 24th and 25th of 2012.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had cited directions from Interior Ministry and asked operators to help the Law Enforcement Agencies to avoid any terrorism incident in Muharram.
Industry experts tell ProPakistani that over 80 million mobile phone subscribers or 70 percent of subscribe base came under the cellular blackout leaving the usual day-life in Pakistan on a halt.
Almost 3 million wireless (WLL) connections were also silenced, out of which 600,000 were used for wireless broadband services (including EVO, Nitro, WorldCall and others).
While exact and accurate figure for losses is being worked out, estimates suggest that over Rs. 1.5 billion were lost in revenues for cellular companies and around Rs. 500 million loss to government in taxes.
Most of Pakistan was left on the shoulders of mere 3 million landline phones, which by design and numbers aren’t enough to meet the magnitude of telecom demands of Pakistani citizens.
Humongous amount of problems were faced by masses, details of which are hard to narrate in writing. It would be enough to mention here that people with-in Pakistan and abroad were left with no communication channel to connect with their family and friends.
Emergency situations, medical urgencies, severe importunities, businesses, collaborations and friendships ended up without communication and might have caused lives and monetary damages beyond limits.
Even worse, it is feared that this norm of suspending cellular services will only get persistent. Industry experts are venting that government will keep pulling communications plugs on every religious/national occasion to save its face. They suspect that cellular suspensions will become a tool that government might use for political gains during upcoming elections.
Uncertainty in telecom sector – thanks to other similar moves by government to curb the industry – is going to affect investments, jobs, national economy, liaison, vendors, marketing & media and everything else that depends on telecoms directly or indirectly.
This all is happening at a time when government is planning 3G license auction in next three months. It is hard to comprehend the plan and strategy government has in mind to keep the sector lucrative and running.
Hard time has begun. Telecom drive in coming days is going to remain equally tough for operators and rough for subscribers.
Having said this all, PTA – the authority responsible for keeping the industry profitable and subscribers protected – is doing nothing but acting as a postmaster to keep conveying Rehman Malik’s directives to cellular companies.
Well said, “Hard time has begun”. Taliban are not that much noobs that the’ll solely rely on using cellular services for reaching their desired ends. This option will not only make them to rethink and to come up with new strategy but will also hamper the telecom environment specially when 3G license is about to be auctioned.
The revenue figures mentioned in this article are not worthwhile than the life of
even one human. We should think optimistically about every decision. I think
Rehman Malik took wise decision to block the service which no doubt pay return
to this nation and Alhamdolillah almost no blast took place in the country except
one where sources said that mobile may be involved. The writer and admin should
realize that human has more value than money. If Australian farmers can deny to
grow certain breed of wheat which was more profitable for them but has less nutrition
then why can’t we accept the blockage of mobile service for couple of days to
save this nation.
Where is the evidence that it saved anything? How do you know there was even a single planned incident that was stopped because ceullalr services were downed?
What will you say if I told you my mobile phone keeps tigers away? You will think I am mad! But do I have a mobile phone? Yes. Are there any tigers near me? No. Therefore, logically, my mobile phone must keep tigers away, right????
Just because there was no major terrorist attack while the network was down DOES NOT MEAN that there was going to be an attack. We saw all throughout Ramadan there were attacks. We saw in the 1980s there were bombings by KHAD all over Pakistan. They did not need mobile phones then, and they do not need them now.
Its common sense and needs proof or brains to understand that there would have been attacks on 9th and 10th Muharram. Major attacks happened couple of days ago.
No, man you’re still not getting it.
What you say is common sense is just your “feeling”.
I want EVIDENCE. Do you have specific, evidence of an attack averted by shutting down mobile networks?
Think about it. This is not the first shutdown this year. This is at least the third shutdown (remember Eids???). Lots and lots of time for the criminals to prepare for this event.
Ziada tar attack mobile se nahi hotay haan un ki planing hoti hai or wo en d/3 days mein nahi ki gai ho gi phlay se ho gi
or es point ko b zehan mein rakhna ho ga k bohat se aesay hadsay hotay hain jin mein time pay first aid zindgi bacha skti hai. lakin jab hr cheez block thi mob WLL n kuch elaqon mein to landline b tou wahan time pay first aid na milne ka zumadar kon hai… kya un logon ki life save krna b faraz nahi tha?
i think tv channels should also has been shut downed with these actions…………
Insiders from within telecom sector tell a different story. They say telecom sector is targeted as they refused to pay ‘bhatta’ to Rehman Malik (and probably Zardari) and refused to be blackmailed for their demands of billions of rupees.
The kind of government we have running the show and considering credibility of Rehman Mali/Zardari, I won’t be surprised if it’s true.
It was a bad step, but I personally enjoyed these 2 days very much :P :P
Malik Sb and some idiots in pta still support and appreciate his moves to confuse the public!
Great Job Rehman Malik! Pakistanion ko sudhar kay hi jana.
Me to kehta hun Kay koi sa aik kaam lazmi ho jaye ya to prepaid sims band ho jayen ya phir mobile hi totally band hojaye
Just a question to those who supports blocking of mobile services. What will be your views if tomorrow Rehman Malik says that Terrorists are using Internet for the blasts, therefore, it would be banned during the events?
Who might knows that tomorrow he calls for a curfew in the whole country for security reasons.
The Govt has not only been successful in silencing the rights and voices of the people of Pakistan, it has also successfully deluded the naive public at large that there is a link between terrorism and cellphones. Quite on the contrary, most of the law enforcement agencies rely completely on mobile telecom services to apprehend the criminals. I’ve never heard the Interior Ministor do a crack down against illegal weapons in Karachi or the madrassas which thrive on hate speech against minorities. The ill conceived policies of the Govt will create unemployment and that will give rise to greater law and order problems.
After completely destroying other institutions like PIA, railways and Pakistan steel, ruining all industrial and economic growth by the energy crisis and ever skyrocketing prices of fuel, this absolutely worthless, completely useless and legally retarded, traitorous, enemy of the state, zardari government is going to murder the last remaining flourishing and promising sector in Pakistan and lo and behold, shame on the naive born yesterday idiots who think and dare to express that there is anything remotely wise about this decision. When are we going to open our eyes as a nation and stop taking any and all injustice and unfair measures with matter of factly, life as usuall, shit happens attitude and understand, comprehend and realize our rights as a citizen of this great nation and country. There is simply no precident ever or any where around the world of an idiotic practice like blocking crtitical communication services to stop acts of terrorism. That’s the equivalent of burying your head in the sand to be safe from a predator.