The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority ordered mobile phone and internet service to be shut down starting tonight at 7 p.m. local time in Islamabad. The PTA states that it received directions to do so from the National Counter Terrorism Authority and the Ministry of Interior.
The mobile phone suspension was ordered in the Red Zone Areas of Presidency and Islamabad’s Convention Center. In some parts of Islamabad, Dawn reports that mobile services have already been shut down. Users of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) are reporting that mobile service is already shut down in the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad and also in the Parliament lodges.
Officials ordered the suspension due to plans for the Azadi March, a planned protest of government activities. Imran Khan is leading the march, which is scheduled for Thursday. A second protest march is also being planned. That march is being led by PAT head Tahirul Qadri.
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Punjab’s government has also shut down roads some of the roads in Model Town. Officials have been told to expect further instructions regarding mobile services based on where the protestors are at a given time. Some officials believe that some members of the military are supporting the protestors. However, the military denies providing any support.
The planned Azadi March has raised a lot of controversy in Pakistan, now leading officials to suspend mobile service in the city of Islamabad. The Interior Ministry ordered the indefinite shutdown of mobile phone services in many parts of the city. Officials also ordered the suspension of mobile internet services.
PTA orders mobile phone suspension
Dawn reports that a source within the telecommunications industry said the PTA ordered them to suspend mobile services in some parts of Punjab. The source also said that officials will notify them at various intervals to block signals in areas where the protestors from the Azadi March are heading. The suspension was ordered to begin at 7 p.m. tonight.