PAKISTAN: At Prices This Low, Teens Can’t Afford Not to be Immoral

AUSTIN SZABO WRITES: You can’t trust your kids once the sun goes down. At least that’s what Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) officials say.

The News reports that the Pakistani government has demanded wireless companies stop selling late-night cellphone packages to teenagers, claiming such deals will ultimately destroy the country’s culture.

Their logic? Discount plans from companies like “Anonymous Chat” (Warid) and “Late Night Offer” (Telenor) spur immoral activity by offering savings on nighttime calls and texts.

As reported by The International Business Times,  the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), under orders from the Senate, decided that restricting night packages  will keep adolescents from being “corrupted” and losing sleep. “Boys and girls talk the whole night on mobile phones” claims PML-N official Sheikh Allauddin, “these packages are destroying the moral character of our youth.”

According to Dawn, there is no legal recourse for the PTA: they have no way to carry out a such an order. “No court or government can ask the cellular operators […] to stop offering the late night packages,” affirms Barrister Mohammad Amir Ali. While moralists have no authority to ban these packages in Pakistan, neighboring India set a precedent, with one village in Bihar banning unmarried women from using cellphones altogether.

This controversy adds fuel to the debate about the morality of new types of media in Pakistan, which has also led to a ban on YouTube. While this debate may remain in Pakistani politics for some time,  the usefulness of any ban should be questioned. Trying  to moralize the young is, if phone use in the West is any guidance, unnecessary as it is sure to fail.

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