ISLAMABAD - Cellphone services in more than 50 cities across the country will be suspended during Muharram processions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The decision was taken during a security meeting held yesterday under the chair of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to review law and order situation and security arrangements made during Muharramul Haram and especially on Youm-e-Ashur.

The meeting reviewed requests forwarded by the provinces for suspension of cellular phone service in different cities across Pakistan during Youm-e-Ashur owing to ongoing security situation, a spokesman of the ministry said.

The interior ministry had received requests for suspension of cellular services of around 48 cities from four provincial governments, Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), Fata administration and Islamabad.

According to details, Punjab government requested for suspension of phone services in 16 cities, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in 12 cities, Balochistan government in five cities including Quetta, Mach, district Jaffarabad, Gandhawa and district Jhal Magsi, AJK government in 12 cities, GB government for one city and Fata administration for Kurram Agency. The Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (Icta) also requested for suspension of mobile phone services. The details of the Sindh government were not available with the ministry; however, it was likely that mobile phone services would also be suspended in Karachi and other main cities of Sindh. The meeting decided that cellular phone services in different parts of the country would be suspended during timings of mourning processions.

Observing that jamming of the cellphones causes inconvenience for the general public, the interior minister decided that cellular services should only be suspended for the minimum time.

Reviewing security arrangements for Islamabad during Muharram, the interior minister said that zero tolerance should be adopted for maintaining law and order in the capital city.

The chair directed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad to ensure foolproof security for Muharram processions, mosques, imambargahs and other religious places.

Appreciating the role of religious leaders of all sects in maintaining peace and promoting harmony in society, the interior minister advised security officials and administration to remain in constant communication with the religious scholars for maintenance of peace.

He directed security officials to maintain better coordination between intelligence agencies and police for quick response to any untoward situation.

The interior minister pointed out that there should no slackness in provision of foolproof security till the end of month of Muharramul Haram.