Mobile phone services in Islamabad to be suspended during OIC summit

Azaz Syed
A man uses a smartphone in this picture taken November 6, 2013. — Reuters/File
A man uses a smartphone in this picture taken November 6, 2013. — Reuters/File

  • OIC's foreign ministers will meet in Islamabad on December 17.
  • Services to remain blocked from Islamabad airport to Red Zone.
  • Management of Parliament House handed over to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ISLAMABAD: Mobile phone services in Islamabad will remain suspended during the extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Ministry for Interior said Thursday.

Phone services will remain suspended for three days — December 17-19 — as the OIC's Extraordinary Session of Foreign Ministers will start on Dec 17.

The session will focus on ways to mobilise support for providing adequate food, medicine, and shelter to millions of people in Afghanistan who are in dire need after the fall of Kabul in mid-August.

The Ministry of Interior, in a notification, said that mobile phone services will be blocked from Islamabad Airport to the Red Zone. The ministry said it had sent a letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in this regard.

The management of the Parliament House has also been handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for eight days to host the extraordinary session, The News reported.

Later, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed, in a statement, said the final decision in this regard would be made tomorrow as consultations were still underway.

"The timings and dates for the suspension of mobile services will be finalised tomorrow," he added.

'Summit to adopt clear strategy to deal with Afghan crisis'

In a statement issued earlier today, Assistant Secretary-General OIC Tariq Ali Bakheet had said the extraordinary session in Islamabad on Sunday will adopt a clear strategy to deal with the "humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan".

He said the OIC meeting would adopt a very important comprehensive resolution, Radio Pakistan reported. Bakheet said the forum is very "serious and committed" to supporting the Afghan people in this critical time.

He said the OIC is going to mobilise all of its financial institutions and member states to get more resources to support the country.

Pakistan is the founding member of the OIC, the OIC Assistant secretary-general said, adding that the country played a very important role for the solidarity of the Muslim Ummah, and its offer to host this meeting was a clear testimony to its commitment to Islamic solidarity.

"Pakistan is also committed to regional security and international security," he added.

Inflation and unemployment have surged in Afghanistan, and international aid that made up 75% of the previous US-backed government's budget has completely dried up.

The Taliban seized power on August 15 after ousting the previous US-backed government, as Washington hurriedly withdrew its troops from the country after a 20-year war.

The Taliban's previous regime was toppled in a US-led invasion after the 9/11 attacks in the United States that were carried out by Al-Qaeda.