The government again suspended cellular phone services in 46 cities of Pakistan early Thursday morning in the wake of terror threats on the occasion of Chehlum of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A).
It is now an easy move for the government to block mobile service on the strange plea of security concerns that the militants use cell phones to plan and carry out attacks and that the planners also pass on information to the facilitators of terror suspects.
An estimate suggests that 80 percent mobile subscribers or around 96 million mobile subscribers are going to spend their day without cellular services. With only 3.5 million active landline connections in Pakistan – only option to remain connected today.
According to the reports, cellular companies will have to bear a loss of Rs. 800 million for today’s service closure. In addition, government will have to bear Rs. 250 million in tax losses. This does not include the monetary loss or other damages that the people of Pakistan bear due to inaccessibility of communication services.
Service closures in Pakistan for security reasons, the only example of such kind in the whole world, are expected to persist and may only worsen in coming days.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik always takes credit for shutting down cellular services citing security reasons.
Interestingly, leaders of his own party do not agree with his notion and condemn his actions. Federal Minister Syed Khurshid Shah said last month that the decision to block mobile service is being taken by Rehman Malik on his own and that it is not the government’s decision.
The Interior Minister frequently claims that 90 per cent of the bombs set off by militants have been detonated using cell phones.
People across the country are facing a lot of problems after mobile service goes off as some people cannot call for emergency ambulance service.
Officials say that the militants in Pakistan often detonate bombs using cell phones and the government has implemented similar service suspensions in the past. But the authorities should also come up with a clear stand whether it is the only solution to the problem to shut mobile service?
The government should improve its intelligence system to break the network of the militants rather than adopting the easy option to stop phone service.
Mobile phone services were last suspended in the country on the 9th and 10th of Muharram. The government had decided to suspend the network for varying periods in about 50 cities across the country to provide security to mourners.