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Country 'muted' to fight terror

24 November, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to suspend mobile and wireless phone services in major cities across the country in a bid to thwart terrorists' plans and ensure a peaceful Ashura.

Talking to newsmen after chairing a meeting to review law and order situation in the country and emerging threats of terrorist acts, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that in view of terrorist threats during Ashura, mobile phone service would be suspended for the next two days (Saturday and Sunday) in 46 cities, including the federal capital, between 6am and 10pm.

The minister said information gathered by intelligence agencies and other sources of the Interior Ministry revealed that terrorists were planning more attacks in the coming days, particularly in Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad.

He said written requests from all the provinces for suspension of mobile services were reviewed in the meeting and a decision in this regard was taken on that basis. He said the mobile phone service had been suspended in Hangu and Kohat from Friday. The mobile service would remain suspended from 1300 hrs until midnight in Quetta and Karachi on Friday, (Muharram 8). The minister said he had issued instructions to all provinces for strict security during the processions of Muharram.

The cities in Punjab where mobile phone service would be suspended include: Lahore, Multan, Sargodha, Attock, Rawalpindi, Jhang, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Nankana Sahab, DG Khan, Pak Pattan and Bhakkar. In Balochistan: Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar, Turbat, Gwadar, Panjgur, Mastung, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Hub and Dera Bugti. In Sindh: Karachi, Hyderabad, Noshero Feroz and Khairpur. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Kohat City, Ustarzai, Hungoo, Bannu, Luki, DI Khan, Tank, Nowshehra, Haripur, Charsadda and Mardan. In FATA the service would be suspended in Kurram Agency (Parachanar) and Miranshah. The cities and areas to be affected in Azad Kashmir are: Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Neelam Valley, Rawalkot and Mirpur, while in Gilgit-Baltistan, Gilgit would be without cellular coverage.

The interior minsiter said along with suspension of cellphone service, wireless telephone network services will also be suspended. He said motorcycles were used in around 90 percent of terrorist incidents during the last two years, and added that the terrorists have introduced a new trend of carrying out blasts through mobile phones and motorcycles. He said as part of security measures, pillion riding has been banned in the country from Friday, and no motorcycle and vehicle would be allowed to be parked within half a kilometre of majalis and along routes of processions during Ashura.

The other decisions taken during the meeting include installation of maximum number of jammers on the routes of processions and majalis venues, physical checking of all garbage bins/depots, electronic surveillance of areas near the venues of majalis and routes of processions. It was decided that no cement block would be allowed to be placed near majalis venues and procession routes.

Malik said all electricity transformers installed on electric poles along the routes would be physically searched for improvised explosive devices and guarded round the clock. The police and law enforcement agencies would ensure that any freshly dugged up soil along the route or near majalis is swept electronically as well as by sniffer dogs.

He said all sabeel stalls, camps along procession routes and near imambargahs would be minutely checked. All food distributed at lungar, niaz would be checked with the help of joint teams of volunteers and police.


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