Pakistan's Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered Thursday a ban on motorcycle riding in Karachi and Quetta due to security reasons. Mr. Malik told media that motorcyclists will not be allowed to come on roads between 6 am and 7 pm local time today. Additionally, the government has decided to suspend mobile services (Zong, Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid etc.) in Karachi and Quetta today from 10 am to 6 pm local time (12 AM - 8 AM EST). As for the SIM cards, Mr. Malik said that SIM cards of all companies will be prohibited from selling at any shop from 1st December.
Malik said he has received information through intelligence reports that terrorists were planning to carry out attacks in public places using motorbikes, and they may use mobile phones to trigger explosives. “They can come on motorbikes, open indiscriminate fire and hurl hand grenades on the public,” he said.
Friday is the start of the Islamic holy month of Muharram ul Haram. The government decided to put these restrictions after over 500 people were killed since September in Karachi in different sectarian attacks. Thousands of innocents have been killed in the violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Pakistan since 1980's.
Moreover, the interior minister said that the shopkeepers in two cities have been instructed to open their shops only between 10 am and 5 pm local time. Various trade bodies have raised voice against any such ban, saying that their businesses are already suffering.
Over 1.5 million motorcyclists in Karachi also reacted strongly against the directives of Rehman Malik. Many Karachiites sarcastically advised the interior minister to impose curfew for the first ten days of Muharram to avoid security threats.
Sindh High Court Suspends Ban on Motorcycling in Karachi
The Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Mushir Alam, on Thursday, dismissed the ban imposed on motorcycle riding in Karachi. Mushir Alam has also ordered the Sindh advocate general (AG), IG and home secretary to appear before the high court today (Friday).
The high court suspended the ban on bike riding after Mushir Alam received an application from the Sindh High Court Bar Association president against Rehman Malik's orders.
However, motorcycle riding in Quetta still remains banned. The police and Frontier Corps (FC) arrested many people who came out on the road biking.