Karachiites report suspension of mobile signals ahead of Ashura

Residents of Karachi experienced suspension of cellular services on Friday, the 8th of Muharram, ahead of Ashura.

The irked Karachi citizens took to social media to post that they stopped receiving mobile signals starting around 9:45am on Friday morning.

Mobile services are suspended every year during Ashura as part of the security measures.

According to a letter sent by the Sindh government’s Home Department to the interior ministry and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), dated September 21, the provincial authorities had requested the federal government to place a ban on mobile services/internet in major cities of Sindh on the 8th, 9th and 10th of Muharram.

The Sindh Home Department had requested blockage of cellular services in Karachi, Hyderabad, Shaheed Benazirabad, Khairpur, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad on following days and timings:

8th Muharram (Friday): 10am to 10pm (along the route of procession)

9th Muharram (Saturday): 8am to 11:59pm (complete ban)

10th Muharram (Sunday): 8am to 11:59pm (complete ban)

According to the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the law enforcement agencies had requested suspension of GSM services “as there are apprehensions of coordination of criminal activity by miscreants through the use of cellular phones/internet during Muharram-related majlis (religious gathering) and processions”.

Although the Sindh government had requested suspension of mobile services on Friday along routes of processions, Karachiites on social media said they were not receiving signals even in areas which are not in the path of the procession route.

The mobile companies could be asked to restore cellular services in case of an emergency, the letter read. It could not be immediately verified if the Sindh government request was approved by the interior ministry.

Though containers are blocking the roads to many schools in the city on Friday, the Sindh government has not declared it a holiday. Instead, Saturday and Sunday have been declared public holidays throughout the province.

According to a notification issued on Thursday, all schools, colleges, offices, autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations and local councils under the administrative control of the government of Sindh except for essential services will observe holidays on 9th and 10th Muharram.