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“There are no negative intentions behind these packages. Misuse happens everywhere. In the case of children, parents are best to enforce discipline,” said the corporate lawyer. -File Photo
“There are no negative intentions behind these packages. Misuse happens everywhere. In the case of children, parents are best to enforce discipline,” said the corporate lawyer. -File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Moralists in Pakistan had long been crying that the night packages offered by the mobile phone companies are “a bad influence” on the society. This week the matter came to a head in the Senate.

Angry senators demanded that the government take action to stop the services. But how?

Technically, there exists no law that would allow that.

“No court or government can ask the cellular operators, conducting lawful business in the country, to stop offering the late night packages,” Barrister Mohammad Amir Ali told Dawn when asked for his opinion on the demand.

In fact, members of the Standing Committees of the Senate and the National Assembly had been seized with the issue during the last five years but their discussion never went beyond instructing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to “direct” the five cellular services operators to stop night packages.

All the lawmakers did in these meetings was to moan that the mobile phone companies had been targeting the gullible with their low rate, late night ‘talk’ and ‘chat’ offers for wasting their time, depriving children of sleep and “corrupting” the morals of their young subscribers for profit.

Even at the latest such meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology, no initiative was taken to introduce an enabling law to stop all these “evils”.

Senator Mohamamd Mohsin Khan Leghari, a member of the committee, did not agree with the demand to shut down the night packages but said the mobile phone companies should “reconsider their marketing strategies and target relevant consumers” for their services.

Advocate Babar Sattar agreed that the PTA possessed no authority to regulate cellular traffic content. He said,

There is no explicit statutory provision in the Telecom Act 1996. This is moral panic and other solutions should be found instead of completely finishing services for consumers.

The government informed the Senate during its current session that each of the five companies has two to three late night, low cost talk and chatting packages on offer.

Mobilink offers ‘Gup Shup Corner’ and ‘Mtalk’, Warid its ‘Anonymous Chat’, ‘SMS Chatter Box’, and ‘Crazy Night Warid’, Ufone the ‘Ufone Dosti’, ‘SMS Buddies’ and ‘SMS Chat Buddy’, and Zong its ‘Zong Chat Buddy’, ‘SMS Chat Buddy’, and ‘Zong Good Night Offer’, and Telenor has ‘Late Night Offer’ and ‘Chat Room’ on offer to subscribers.

Barrister Amir Ali says that the Specific Relief Act 1877 does not allow the government to ask a lawful business to curtail its activities/dealings.

In his opinion, directing the cellular companies to stop their night packages will harm businesses operating at night, such as call centers, which have invested millions in Pakistan.

“There are no negative intentions behind these packages. Misuse happens everywhere. In the case of children, parents are best to enforce discipline,” said the corporate lawyer.

PTA spokesperson Khurram Mehran recalled that after receiving complaints from the public and the legislative bodies, the PTA had sent a notice to the mobile phone companies on November 14, 2012, directing hem to stop immediately their night packages.

“The companies challenged the directive in the Islamabad High Court on November 21, 2012 but withdrew it eight days, only to raise the same in Supreme Court when the PTA pursued the matter, where the case is still pending,” the spokesperson added.

A senior official of a mobile phone company said the night packages were introduced for the entrepreneurs and businesses operating at night.

“From night watchmen to businesses - especially those conducting transactions abroad after later hours - all avail the low cost packages,” he said.

“It is imperative to utilise our networks at night when the traffic load goes down to 10 per cent compared to the daytime load of 90 per cent.”

Comments (34) Closed

Asad Aug 30, 2013 02:33pm

It is basic financial requirement to have these late night packages. If you have invested in expensive telecom network and it stays 90% empty during night time, its money lost every second the telecom network is not being used. From business perspective, banning the telecom sector to try to maximize their network utilization is only going to send a hugely wrong signal to investors. Telecoms are already re-thinking whether they want to bid for the 3G license or not, and such silly steps will only make it even more tougher for the investors.

Also, if anyone thinks that restricting the teenagers not to talk at night will stop them from exploring other communication avenues, then they are dinosaurs. When I was once a teenager (back in early 90's), it was the PTCL phone line, then came the internet, MSN and chat messengers. Nowadays its the cell phone, tomorrow it will be some other technology. If I have to be a teenager again, I would rather use Skype/Viber which is absolutely free. If internet is not available then I will go back to good old PTCL line. So my point is that you cannot stop someone from communicating with whoever they want to communicate with by simply banning some late night cellular packages. Time for this nation (and its parents) to really grow up. P.S: I am also a proud parent of two little girls.

Aun Moeid Aug 30, 2013 02:38pm

Assalam o alaikum

I am really surprised by the Senior official saying that these packages are for enterpreneurs and business operations at night, if it is so then why ur electronic ads are targeting the youths in it?? Do they have answer to this?? Look into all tha 5 telecom companies ads on tv, they are directly targeting the youths, not targeting any businees advantage. So i am really sorry, i dont agree with the statement of the senior spokesperson

May Allah guide us all to the right path ameen

QuaziModo Aug 30, 2013 02:45pm

Syed Ismail Aug 30, 2013 04:10pm

@Aun Moeid: There is no right or wrong path. There is your opinion and someone else's opinion.

Amarnath Aug 30, 2013 04:37pm

@Aun Moeid: . That is a network usage model. At night the load is less, and you offer such goodies to win customers. Half the world does that, and most of that world is better off than Pakistan. You don't attach morality to every darn thing..... Please come out of that morbidity

Hayjamalo Aug 30, 2013 04:54pm

@Aun Moeid: Live and let live. PTA has no business doing moral policing.

adnan khan Aug 30, 2013 04:55pm

What i don't get is, why is this cellular late night service a more pressing matter in the senate, than Terrorism? which in fact is sweeping all over the nation. Then there is the extremely unlawful (the very basic necessity to deprived of in this era) electricity load-shedding which in turn encourages burglars. The senate cares less about the people of this nation. Why aren't they discussing if the flood victims have been dealt with properly? Why aren't they creating ways to stop corruption? Are there no laws present that disallow terrorism, corruption ? other than creating more hurdles for the already dying private sector?

Dear senate, Why don't you talk about bring more business to Pakistan, So that we can get a job.

Dear senate, Why don't you talk about making more electricity so that we can sleep peacefully at night.

Dear senate, Why don't you talk about making the hospitals in this country fully functional so that when we poor people of Pakistan visit we can have some free medicine.

Dear senate, please let us live in Pakistan a lot of us have already left, but some of us want to stay and help Pakistan grow.

We want to work here, but Why do make it so difficult?

Why are you ignoring us?

Is it because we don't give you a close to a billion rupees tax revenue like those big cellular companies?

Anonymous Aug 30, 2013 05:02pm

Agree with the above comment from Aun Moeid.

S J Aug 30, 2013 06:00pm

@Aun Moeid: W/S. The question is why youngsters use these packages? Even if these are for them, why they use these? Are we supposed to use everything that is advertised?

It is the responsibility of the parents to see what their kids are doing in the night, and not the responsibility of the government. We all know how capable out govt. is?

Even if these night packages are banned, people will still be talking on phones. So we cannot blame telecom sector or someone else instead of ourselves. Parents are the most responsible ones here.

S J Aug 30, 2013 06:02pm

@Aun Moeid: W/S. The question is why youngsters use these packages? Even if these are for them, why they use these? Are we supposed to use everything that is advertised?

It is the responsibility of the parents to see what their kids are doing in the night, and not the responsibility of the government. We all know how capable out govt. is?

Even if these night packages are banned, people will still be talking on phones. So we cannot blame telecom sector or someone else instead of ourselves. Parents are the most responsible ones here.

Uza Syed Aug 30, 2013 06:24pm

I'm a citizen who supposedly has rights and freedom to decide for me what is right or wrong and have my own standard of morality. This is ridiculous to be target of one or other moral brigades controlling my sense of propriety. And Government or any of its agencies should please stay out of my privacy zone and stop regulating my choice of who-do-I-do-with, and what-I-do and when-I-do-it, after all what good is this thing called democracy if I even can't talk?

Saad(DXB) Aug 30, 2013 06:49pm

These cellular companies are destroying the future of many students with the late night packages. Every family has a kid or two who chats/ talks all night to the opposite sex, which results in poor sleep for that kid and as a result, poor grades in school/ college. These cellular companies like any other businesses in a capitalistic economy, will do anything moral or immoral to make a few bucks on the side without caring who they hurt in the process

shahroz Aug 30, 2013 07:57pm

yes it's right late night pakages is stop know i requested you....

joe Aug 30, 2013 08:45pm

i heard that Paki Gov Banning sms to boost morals, REALLY what a joke. SMS is a text service what it has to do with morals when you have cinemas, when you celebrate Valentine day, new years day/night, suicide bombing, Harassment minorities, killing, rapes, dacoit, robberies etc etc. Talking about Morals dosen't suits you. pay attention on bringing jobs, economy, modernization, tourism, Nationalism, Love, hard work, peace, religious freedom for every religion, higher education for poor, eliminate cast system bases of language etc etc etc.

Sabahat Aug 30, 2013 09:17pm

@Asad: Who is important here for us? Investors or our youth? Lets care about investors and money and corporations and destroy morals of society? Sorry, this is a bad approach.

How many youth have been doing wrong using mobile phone than it use to be 15-20 years back without mobile phone? How many families have been destroyed and and girls ran away with someone compared to 15-20 years back? What is the main source mobile phone? How many terrorist activities happened and they used mobile phones? How about western countries? Why it is that it is expensive in western countries than in Pakistan? What kind of business happen late night that these mobile companies are supporting? As far as I know most of the businesses are closed at night except prostitutes, bars, night clubs and medical stores and hospitals? Do you need a mobile phone to run medical store and a hospital or a fire brigade?

IndianInUS Aug 30, 2013 09:30pm

@adnan khan: Yes. That is the reason. Why do you sound surprised?

Tariq Aug 30, 2013 11:31pm

Assalam o Allaikum Raising this issue by the senate is admireable initiative.Supreme Court should resolve this issue by day to day hearings. Supreme Court should also get rid of such non sence(Night Pkgs etc) things to the people of pakistan.I will pray 2 Nafl when it resolved.

batool Aug 31, 2013 12:35am

@S J : its a gud decision of gov,,, over all rulers r also responsibl towards their populace...

MC Aug 31, 2013 01:57am

I want the govt. to help me raise my children. I am entirely unable to do it on my own. They stay awake all night. Are failing in their classes. I want the govt. to take away their mobile phones by making it unlawful for people under 23 to carry them. Also I want the govt. to make sure that my kids get good grades in school. And while we are at it, make it unlawful for them to disobey their parents.

I hope nobody expects me to raise my kids on my own. I did not sign up for this. Everybody knows that it is primarily the job of the govt to do it. If you look at all the civilized nations, you will see that they all have such laws on the books.

Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi Aug 31, 2013 06:36am

@Asad: The point is when old society dies and the old guards have its own values or sets of morals they do not except new technology so the hue and cry is useless. The change of technology demands change of morals and that's what happened in the world.

illawarrior Aug 31, 2013 09:03am

Sorry, I do not understand this article. Can someone please explain to me how making a phone call during the day is considered moral, but making a phone call at night is not? What is the cut off point? 11:59pm is moral, 12:01am is not? Morality has nothing to do with the time of day. Immoral acts can be committed at any time.

Sher Alam Shinwari Aug 31, 2013 10:14am

These names of the packages like Mobilink offers

Editor at Aug 31, 2013 10:50am

And those Ramadan Transmissions were so moral, right?

Mustafa Alvi Aug 31, 2013 01:26pm

It just shows how narrow minded our law makers are! I thought it was my parents' duty to keep me disciplined? When did this duty get transferred to the govt? In my opinion they should concentrate on learning how to govern the country and leave the moral disciplining to our parents.

Mustafa Alvi Aug 31, 2013 01:29pm

@Aun Moeid: First there is not a lot of immoral activities that can take place over the phone. Second regardless of what the youth is doing over the phone, how is it any of your business? How is it the business of the state? What makes you so concerned about if the youth is getting enough sleep or not? The govt needs to stop trying to play the role of a parent and concentrating on its real job to actually for once GOVERN!

Mohammad Aug 31, 2013 07:05pm

@joe: Well said, I pray that such people disappear from our nation !

Mohammad Aug 31, 2013 07:05pm

@Saad(DXB): How ridiculous, if people want to talk they will no matter what. It is not the fault of the cellular company you ignorant man, it is responsibility of parents, HOW DO YOU NOT realize this ? Learn to direct responsibility ? People of pakistan (like you) should write to end shia killing, improve law and order and boost economy.....yet here you are trying to stopp the progress of our most successful businesses.

Mohammad Aug 31, 2013 07:11pm

When will our people be more educated ? Has the senate no other work Points to be discussed in senate should be limited to:

1) Terrorism 2)Reducing Poverty 3) proliferating Education 4) Reducing sectarian violence 5)Boosting economy 6)Encouraging Entrepreneurship

I also find it so surprising reading some of the comments here who are morally policing other people, LOOK AFTER YOUR OWN KIDS, NOT THOSE OF YOUR NEIGHBORS !

Agha Ata Aug 31, 2013 07:35pm

It is like chasing the shadows. The minds behind all this are free to think, wander, imagine and enjoy anything.they want. If you , somehow, stop this practice, they would find other ways. Besides, it would be against the Nature to stop it or to control it.
The best way to put them on the right path is to tell children and young people in class rooms, and invite free discussions, under the guidance of experienced knowledgeable teachers who REALLY know the logical answers. But we are far behind it, perhaps hundred years!

Hasnain Aug 31, 2013 08:36pm


It's the way that the services "packages" have been advertised which have caused the "moral" ruckus. Had our mobile phone companies, not advertised such packages as "dosti or yaari" package, none of the minds would have been conditioned to think that use of mobile could promote immorality amongst the members of the public.

In hindsight, a simple advertisement of : free calls or texts between 7pm to 9am would have been better and at the same time would have not created any debate about morality.

Rabbani Aug 31, 2013 09:29pm

don't moralists look at TV channels. . .all the time Indian stuff is there on Pakistani channels. . .has that not ruined our moral values, our identification, our culture and etc. . this is fine to ban these packages but before this other things are due to be done. .

sana Sep 01, 2013 12:38am

I hope issue will be resolved and PTA(White Elephant) in public sector have to go back from its Mr. Dogar point of View.

XTC Sep 01, 2013 03:09am

one should make the legislation according to the time you are going through if there weren't any legislation it doesn't mean it can't be added into constitution. I spent nearly 5 years of my life which i could have been utilise far better than i wasted because of these packages. All these foreign companies rushed to Pakistan to invest into the lucrative industry not to give people low cost calling rates.

Mujahid Ali Sep 01, 2013 05:27am

To those who agree with this; who are you to define morality? It is up to the parents to decide what is right or wrong for their children. Look after your own children, and maybe teach em to be more tolerant. What will you demand next? Shut down the internet at 9pm?

Pakistan is home to many faiths and ideas. You have no right to impose your personal beliefs on others.