ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's media regulator pulled the plug on a contraceptives commercial starring celebrity personality Mathira on Tuesday, calling it “immoral”, after public complaints.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) wrote to broadcasters ordering them to take the advert for Josh condoms off air immediately.
The 50-second advertisement stars Mathira, one of the country's most well-known actor-models, as a newlywed bride who makes a neighbouring couple jealous by pampering her husband.
Finally the neighbour asks the rather nerdy-looking husband how he keeps his glamorous wife so sweet and he replies: “Bring Josh into your life.”
Pemra spokesman Fakharuddin Mughal said the watchdog's letter pointed out that the advertisement was generally being seen as “indecent, immoral and in sheer disregard to our socio-cultural and religious values.”
“Airing of such immoral advertisement on Pakistani channels and that too in the holy month of Ramazan warrants serious action,” he said.
Contraceptive commercials are rare in Pakistan, where fear of backlash from the country’s religious, conservative right usually means advertisers avoid the subject altogether.
The advertisement itself is considered irresponsible, in light of the fact that Pakistan currently faces a massive population explosion problem. By offending sensibilities, it has sabotaged a small window of opportunity to educate people, through mass media, about family planning.
According to the United Nations a third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control and its 180 million population is growing by more than two percent a year.
Around a third of Pakistanis who want birth control have no access to it, according to UN and government statistics.
Josh condoms are marketed in Pakistan by DKT International, a US-based non-profit organisation that works to promote family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention in the developing world.