Ashura: Punjab to suspend telecommunications services in Lahore, Rawalpindi among 7 cities

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According to a notification released by the provincial home department, the Punjab government has agreed to suspend mobile phone services on Ashura because of security concerns in seven provincial cities.

The Punjab government has sought information for the suspension of mobile phone service from the seven related district administrations according to the notification. The cities facing service suspension include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Jehlum, Chiniot, Okara, and Bahawalpur.

The notice sent to the cities instructed the district administrators to let the provincial government know the timing for the cellular service’s suspension. It adds that the timings will be submitted to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) in order to prevent any untoward incidents.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had ruled that the government can suspend cellular services under “special circumstances”.

The orders were issued during a hearing of the Ministry of Information and the PTA’s petitions against mobile phone companies.

The apex court decided that the government can suspend cellular services under special circumstances and ordered the PTA and the IT ministry to come up with relevant SOPs and procedures to do so.

In April, the Supreme Court had set aside a 2018 order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in which it had ruled that the government could not suspend mobile phone services on the pretext of public safety.

The IHC had said that the PTA and federal government’s actions and directives were inconsistent with the provisions of Section 54(3) of the PTA Act 1996.

“The federal government or the authority are, therefore, not vested with the power and jurisdiction to suspend or cause the suspension of mobile cellular services or operations on the ground of national security except as provided under section 54(3),” the order had read.

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