In another blow to the telecom industry the regulatory authority (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) has directed all mobile phone operators to immediately discontinue the late night packages. The reason cited for banning all such packages is increasing“immorality” and being against the social norms and values of the country. “We have received a number of complaints from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Standing Committee of the Parliament, Senators, MNAs and subscribers regarding the promotion of vulgarity through such advertisements/packages and have therefore asked CMOs to immediately discontinue such packages and to present compliance reports,” said PTA Chairman Farooq Awan.
Mobile phones have become essential part of people’s lives in Pakistan and from the times of fixed lines to mobile beeping or flashing the industry have come a long way with the introduction of special packages during peak and off-peak hours. The success of late night offers during off-peak hours has become very popular in Pakistan especially among the youth but the same has received criticism from some part of the Pakistani society which believe that the trend of late night phone call is promoting western culture and moving away from social norms and values. The disapproval of late night packages has been highlighted a lot in both print and electronic media and the negative effects of using mobile phone technology which seems to be coming from the generational conflict of adopters and users of mobile phones. In Pakistan the younger generation is more influenced by western cultures owing to access to Cable television, Hollywood/Bollywood movies and the growing use of the internet. Mobile phones help these youngsters create their own micro-techno-cultures with changing cultural norms and values they are able to modify and repurpose technology for their personal utilization. It is also a tool which helps them insulate their private interactions from the culture around them. But all that is set to change with this ban on the use of late night packages which are believed to be promoting “immorality” due to youths being indulged in conversations on mobile phones all night long.
The policy approach for cultural protectionism in this age of modern technologies and globalization seems difficult to realize but the government in Pakistan is bent on protecting social norms and values. Who knows what will be banned next so far we have had Mobile phone services, YouTube, Mobile number portability (MNP), selling of sim cards and now mobile phone packages being banned or blocked.