Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday restored cellular services in four major cities, including Lahore and Karachi, after briefly suspending them to prevent terrorist attacks with bombs triggered by mobile phones.

Millions of people in Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Quetta were unable to use their mobile phones from 8 pm on Sunday as cellular operators suspended all services in most parts of these cities on the directions of the Interior Ministry.

Though some services were restored in parts of these cities early this morning, they were again suspended between 7 am and 10 am as special prayers for Eid-ul-Fitr were held across the country.

All services were restored by Monday afternoon.

The move was criticised by people across Pakistan, who said they were unable to wish friends and relatives on the occasion of Eid.

Many Pakistanis took to social networking sites to criticise Malik and the suspension of mobile services, saying people would be unable to contact police or rescue services in any emergency.

"We have done it to stop bombings using mobile phones," Malik said during an interaction with reporters when he made a surprise inspection of security at a market in Islamabad late on Sunday night.

He said the Interior Ministry had made arrangements to suspend cellular services in Islamabad too in the event of any emergency.

"The objective of the Pakistan government is to save lives. There will be some inconvenience due to the lack of mobile services but I will request the people to bear with it," he said.

The decision to suspend cellular services was made following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks during the Eid holidays, he said.

"There have been instances of mobile phones being used as detonators in bomb attacks," he said.

Cellular company sources confirmed they were asked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block services in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta.

Referring to the terrorist attack on the Kamra airbase, a bombing in Karachi and a suicide attack on security personnel in Quetta over the past few days, Malik claimed some elements had drawn up a "blueprint to destabilise Pakistan".

Nine terrorists and two security personnel were killed in the attack on the Kamra airbase and seven persons were killed in the attacks in Karachi and Quetta.

Malik claimed the investigation into the attack on the airbase was on in "full swing" and the attackers had been identified.

He said some persons had been arrested but refused to give details on the grounds that this could affect the probe.

Though the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kamra airbase, Malik said he would accept this only if TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud came forward and acknowledged the group’s role.

Malik pointed out that all major terrorist attacks, including the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto had been traced back to North and South Waziristan.

Punjabi militants, members of banned organisations and foreign fighters were based in Waziristan, he said.


Latest News from World News Desk