36 Hours In, No Signs of Mobile Coverage in Islamabad

Mobile phone service has been unavailable in Islamabad for over 36 hours now. While the motives behind the blockage are understandable, each passing hour adds to the strangeness of the situation. For a nation’s capital to go into signal blackout to deal with protestors is quite frankly, ridiculous.

Whether or not the government undertakes any action to deal with an emergency situation, it appears that blocking the mobile signals has become their immediate response to everything. As if that in itself is enough of a reaction, allowing them time to grapple with the situation.

The current predicament our capital finds itself in is not terrorist in nature, it’s a collection people with an agenda and a set of demands in hand. While there’s been abhorrent destruction of property, there doesn’t seem to be a credible threat to the lives of the citizenry. So barring a terrorist threat, what’s the rationale for the extended communications lockdown?

It appears that blocking the mobile signals has become government’s immediate response to everything to buy time

The simple fact is that it’s unclear when the protesters will end their sit-in. And D-Chowk has become so infamous for the politically unsatisfied populace that Malik Riaz is considering building a housing colony just for protestors nearby (not really). Are we really going to wait for them to end their protest to resume cell coverage?

We don’t even have to describe how harmful it is to leave an entire city communication less. Aside from businesses being hurt and telcos losing revenue, no signals mean personal lives of people are being disrupted. In emergency situations, people are finding themselves unable to get in touch with their loved ones.

Some of the lingering questions are that when and how is it decided that a situation is serious enough for the government to turn off the mobile services? Has the government done a cost benefit analysis of this strategy? Or whether this strategy actually helps to achieve some concrete objectives?

Whatever the answer may be, the people need to know. it is startling how immune our community has become to the totalitarian policies that our government has adopted under the pretext of security. If such policies are actually essential for maintaining the security situation in the country then the public and the private sector should also be taken into confidence.

Talal is the Editor in Chief at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]