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.


  • M Waseem Akhtar

    Protesters have a very strong selling item “Islam”. If Govt kicks them out then it is blamed, if let them sit in then its bad too. The only way is to make life miserable on road via blocking cell phones, access to food etc which they are doing.
    Govt and Army has made it final to eradicate mullaism from the country. These so called islamists have brought bad name to Islam.

  • Common pakistani

    What ever the case is it is outrageous from the so called Government to paralyze the capital by turning the mobile phones off. Question arises if all the mobile phones and wifi devices are biometric authenticated then why they have issues regarding the security. Secondly once you have extra documentary evidences for the post paid customers then why their numbers are been blocked.

    Now if a personal have tracker installed in their vehicle then practically speaking and as per my understanding that tracker shall not work under this circumstances in capital. Which is again a great work performed by the Government.

    Its a pitty.

  • RT

    Pakistan is becoming bipolar in ideology. both sides are demonstrating their ignorance in full capacity while the commoner is being squashed between them. need to get rid of both sides sick mentality. It is only that, change in social realities, will reflect the change in political realities.

  • Mubashir

    Hope someone reminds the govt. To compensate the telecom consumers. Surely the hapless consumers must be suffering in form of no service & their balances deducted in the form of daily packages not being used!

  • Qasim

    It’s time to discuss the technical solutions for this government-imposed cellular communication blockade. There are already some wireless mesh network communication apps which can create a free wireless network such as Open Garden’s FireChat app. That app was also used by protesters in Hong Kong after the government there also ordered cellular networks offline. The only way for the government to stop wireless mesh networks is to jam the relevant wireless frequencies (mostly 2.4 GHz in this case).

  • zubair

    Goverment should apologize for what they did and built some school,college,university or road in the name of Gazi Mumtaz Qadri.Also offer highest civilian award to Gazi Mumtaz Qadri.

  • Ali

    Failed government if they cannot secure Red Zone then how can you expect them to provide security to ordinary people?

  • Eli Ehsan

    *Slow Claps*