Polling day security: Plan to suspend cellphone service in parts of Sindh

All five cellphone operators have been named in the tax evasion case. – File photo by Creative Commons

Cell phone service is likely to be suspended in certain parts of Karachi, as well as Sindh on polling day. — File photo by Creative Commons

KARACHI, May 6: Cellphone service is likely to be suspended during the polling day in Karachi as well as a few other parts of Sindh as was hinted at a ‘high-level meeting’ on law and order on Monday at the CM House, where the federal and provincial authorities agreed on the proposal forwarded by the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.

A senior official said that since the authority to suspend the cellphone service fell in the federal government domain, the final decision could take a couple of days, but considering the level of threat in Karachi and other urban areas of the province, the bar was likely to be imposed on May 11.

“The proposal came from the federal government, but the final decision may take a few days to come up,” Sharfuddin Memon, special assistant on Sindh home affairs, told Dawn after the meeting, jointly presided over by caretaker Chief Minister Zahid Kurban Alavi and Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan.

“If it’s finally decided, sensitive areas would definitely be identified for that purpose. In Karachi we may restrict it to certain parts of the city. The modalities and mechanism have yet to be decided, but it’s all for a peaceful polling process with the prime objective to keep everyone’s life and property safe.”

He said the provincial security administration, including the caretaker government and the law-enforcement agencies, had kept the terrorists at bay to a large extent due to a proactive policy, which was appreciated by the interior minister.

“The meeting also reviewed other possible moves to keep the polling day peaceful,” said Mr Memon.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the CM House said that during the meeting directions were issued for establishing monitoring cells at the CM secretariat, local government department and home department for a quick response to any eventuality. The meeting discussed various aspects of law and order and finalised a contingency plan for pre- and post-election as well as polling day security arrangements, said the statement.

“The heads of law enforcement agencies including the Sindh IG stated that all security measures had been taken to provide peaceful and conductive atmosphere for holding the general elections on May 11,” it said. “The DG Rangers informed the meeting that the paramilitary troops are proactively working against the terrorists groups and they have successfully apprehended a number of terrorists during operations in various areas of the metropolis.”

The Rangers also planned a flag march in the city to convey a sense of security and confidence to the people, said the statement, adding that the meeting was also informed about the availability of army troops in sensitive areas as a quick response force.

“The commissioner of Karachi also briefed the meeting that all civic agencies, hospitals, ambulances, fire tenders and civil defence would be on high alert and would be working round the clock to provide immediate services during any emergency,” said the statement.

It said the interior minister expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the law enforcement agencies for the May 11 polling and appreciated efforts of the police and Rangers in maintaining law and order in Sindh.

“Special assistant Mr Memon informed the meeting that concerns of all political parties regarding security have been addressed on a priority basis and the candidates contesting elections have been allowed to keep five private guards for security,” said the statement.



Full News here – DAWN.COM » Newspaper > Karachi

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