ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/LAHORE -  The federal government has decided to shut down cellular phone services in 25 cities on Thursday and Friday to protect gatherings and processions being held in connection with Yaum-e-Ashur.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has sent the list of cities to mobile phone companies.

According to sources, mobile phone service will remain shut in Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Sehwan, Nawabshah and Larkana for two days.

In the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, there will be no mobile phone service in Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Bannu and parts of Peshawar.

In addition, mobile phone firms have been asked to block this service in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Rahim Yar Khan, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Pakpattan, Multan, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Jhang and Attock.

Mobile phone service will also be blocked on the routes of Muharram processions in specific cities.

Meanwhile, Sindh and Balochistan have sought mobile service closure on Yaum-e-Ashur. The provincial governments have written letters to the federal government, requesting it to block mobile phone services in Quetta and five cities of Sindh on Yaum-e-Ashur.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has decided to block the mobile service on the routes of mourning processions throughout the province on Muharram 9 and 10, besides banning pillion riding on these days all over the province.

The cabinet committee meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, also decided to partially block the mobile service in Lahore and all the main cities of the province on the said two days. No mobile service would be available on any side of the routes which have been fixed for the Muharram 9 processions and the Ashura processions the next day.

In a media interaction, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the government had decided to ban billion riding on the two crucial days of Muharramul Harram. He said 300 persons who guilty of creating disturbance in the past had been put under detention while movement of 1,414 ulema had been restricted for their past record of passing provoking statements.

Meanwhile, sources in the government said that in view of the situation, the time of blocking the cell phone service in the cities and other parts could be enhanced.