November 21, 2018

Protest against the Asia Bibi’s acquittal: Cellular services suspended for few hours   

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of ongoing protests by the religious parties against the Asia Bibi’s acquittal by the Supreme Court, the mobile services remained reportedly suspended in different parts of Pakistan for more than ten hours.

Apparently, the mobile services were suspended in the wake of Friday processions by religious groups to protest against the acquittal of Asia Bibi from the Supreme Court. She was accused of committing blasphemy.

However, according to Dawn News, the cellular services have been restored in multiple cities including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala after they were suspended at 8 AM.

This is the second time the Cellular services have been suspended in a week. Earlier, they were suspended on October 30, 2018 in the wake of Chehlum of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A). The cities affected as a result of the suspension included Hyderabad, Sukkur, Khairpur, Jaccobabad, Shikarpur, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Sargodha, Sialkot, Gujrat, Narowal, Multan, Sahiwal, Rahimyar Khan, Okara, Pak Patan and others according to The News.

Cellular services are frequently suspended as a “law and order” measure.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court declared arbitrary network shutdowns illegal in February 2018, but the federal government got a stay on the decision through an intra-court appeal in March just before March 23 Parade celebrations. Since then, it has suspended cellular services on numerous occasions citing security concerns including on Pakistan Day (23 March), July 13th on the arrival of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, on September 06 in Rawalpindi/Islamabad owing to Defence day celebrations and on September 21 owing to Ashura processions.

Human rights activists around the world believe cellular network shutdowns disrupt the routine lives of citizens by limiting their means to communicate and making them unable to contact their family and friends especially in the case of emergencies. Telecom operators and digital services dependent on mobile Internet for their service delivery also lose out on millions of rupees in revenue.

 

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