Like previous years, Federal govt. has announced to suspend the cell phone services on 9 and 10 Muharram (Ashura) due to security reasons.
The govt. has taken this decision to ensure that any possible incident of terrorism on Muharram’s Ashura procession be avoided. This decision is indeed much needed to make it possible that incidents of violence and terrorist attacks are prevented.
On one hand, the suspension of cell phone services helps the security agencies and govt. institutes to implement the law and order and shield any gruesome incident, on the other hand, this act causes a considerable revenue loss for telecom operators.
For example, in 2013, two years ban on cell phone services, made telecom operators to bear a collective loss of almost Rs 2.5bn is revenue. Due to the reduction in revenue, PTA predicted that telecom sector wouldn’t be able to contribute a hefty amount of Rs260 millions in taxes. In this way, the loss was transferred at the national level.
This figure is only for telecom operators who are unable to sell their services on these days, overall, economy has to bear a loss due to interruption in e-commerce and communication regarding important business matters
This is not the all, in Punjab, PITB (Punjab Information Technology Board) has also ensured the monitoring of Muharram processions in sensitive districts.
PITB Chairman Dr. Umer Saif told that PITB has arranged the live monitoring of processions, in almost 11 districts of the Punjab. Among these, the monitoring on the shrine of Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar has started on 5 Muharram. The other districts where such gatherings would be monitored include the Lahore, Pakpattan, Jhang, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Multan, D.G Khan, Muzafer Garh, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.
If such live monitoring is extended to all the provinces and made satisfactory for meeting security standards then it can reduce the financial burden of telecom operators resulting from suspension of cell phone services.