Islamabad: Cellular services were on Sunday night suspended in four major Pakistani cities, including Lahore and Karachi, to prevent terrorist attacks using bombs triggered with mobile phones, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.
Millions of people in Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Quetta were unable to use their mobile phones from 8 pm as cellular operators suspended all services in most parts of these cities on the directions of the Interior Ministry.
"We have done it to stop bombings using mobile phones," Mr Malik said during an interaction with reporters when he made a surprise inspection of security at a market in Islamabad late on Sunday night.
He said the Interior Ministry had made arrangements to suspend cellular services in Islamabad too in the event of any emergency.
Mobile phone services could be restored in the four cities during the night so that people could wish their relatives and friends for the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.
However, services would be suspended again between 7 am and 10 am on Monday to prevent possible terror attacks on congregations offering Eid prayers, Mr Malik said.
"The objective of the Pakistan government is to save lives. There will be some inconvenience due to the lack of mobile services but I will request the people to bear with it," he said.
The decision to suspend cellular services was made following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks during the Eid holidays, he said.
"There have been instances of mobile phones being used as detonators in bomb attacks," he said.
However, the move was sharply criticised by residents of the four cities.
Story first published:
August 20, 2012 08:43 IST