ISLAMABAD - Mobile phone and wireless internet services suspended yesterday will remain unavailable in exclusive parts of the country today as part of security measures for Ashura.

Wireless and cellular phone services on Friday were minimized on directions of Ministry of Interior.

According to sources, on directions of Interior Ministry and Provincial governments, PTA directed mobile and wireless service providers to stop signals in 68 districts of the country on October 23 and 24. Out of these districts 34 fall in Punjab, 8 in Sindh, 15 in KP, 3 in Balochistan, 1 in Gilgit Baltistan and 7 in Azad Kashmir. These areas are known to be sensitive with a history of sectarian clashes.

According to sources services in the capital were suspended on the request Islamabad Administration (IA).

IA in letter to Ministry of Interior, this week, requested suspension of wireless services in areas, near main Imambargah’s and route of processions to ensure foolproof security on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.

Mobile services will also remain suspended from 8am to 10pm in most parts of the Karachi and Quetta.

DIGITAL SHUTDOWNS THREATEN ECONOMY

Bytes For All, a digital rights group in its report argued that such shutdowns threaten rights of general public.

The report named ‘Security verses Access: The Impact of Mobile Network Shutdowns’, discussed socio economic losses due to suspension of wireless services.

The report claims that Pakistan's economy lost Rs507 million in tax revenue during Eid in 2012 and Rs500m during Ashura on November 2012 due to suspension of mobile services.

Report cited experts, who argue that network shutdowns violate a range of human rights, and are neither necessary nor proportionate responses to potential violent activities.

According to sources government and regulatory Authority PTA both are aware that mobile phone companies in order to make up for the losses send excess bills to consumers and cheat them on different services. PTA spokesman’s refrained to comment.