Exactly a month ago, the Taliban threatened telecom companies in Afghanistan to
switch off their networks at night for nearly 10 hours else face extinction of
their towers and offices.
The Taliban lived up to its warning: since then, ten telecom towers have been
attacked with seven of them incurring serious damages to the tune of around
$2 million, the Associated Press (AP) quoted the Telecom Ministry saying.
Subsequently, four major mobile phone companies in Afghanistan i.e. Roshan, AWCC,
Areeba, and Etisalat began shutting down their services at night in the South
in Helmand, Kandahar, and Zabul provinces where the Taliban is most active.
What the phone companies did not bargain for was the anger their action would
cause amongst Afghan citizens. Nearly a quarter million customers who have no
access to cell phones are now voicing serious displeasure against the shutdown
of services in these parts.
Apparently, even some Taliban fighters are now regretting the cutoff and
demanding restoration of services by the telcos. This indeed is a Uturn
considering it was the Taliban that issued warning to these telcos, alleging
that the US military and other foreign forces were using mobile phone signals
during the night to track their footprints and launch attacks on them.
Commenting on the sorry situation, Afghanistans Telecommunications Minister A
Sangin said that the government is not overtly worried about the Taliban threat
since Afghans are becoming increasingly angered by the shutdown. The minister
voiced the view that its a fight not against foreign troops or the government
rather, against the Afghan people. He expressed hope that the people of
Afghanistan would stand up and provide protection for their telecom towers.
Meanwhile, a Kabulbased political analyst expressed the view that the situation
reeked of the ineffectiveness of the central government as well as of
international forces operating within Afghanistan in the face of the tyranny
of the Taliban. That a few attacks could cripple a basic service (which
continues to remain crippled despite people protests) shows how little influence
the central government of the country wields.
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