• November 18th, 2011
  • Dafiq Hussein

It has been announced that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has informed mobile phone companies to block text messages that contain certain “obscene” words.

Mobile phone companies, Telenor Pakistan and Ufone, have confirmed that the PTA has sent them a “dictionary” of banned words. The PTA has also informed operators to begin screening text messages by 21st November.

It seems that Muhammad Talib Doger wrote a letter that has been leaked to Pakistani media. The letter states the mobile phone operators must begin screening the words.

Anjum Nida Rahman, Corporate Communications Director for Telenor Pakistan, has been quoted saying: “We have received both the dictionary and the memo and we’re discussing a way forward.”

According to Mohammed Younis, a spokesman for the PTA, the ban on obscene words is a reaction to complaints from consumers who were receiving offensive text messages. He said: “Nobody would like this happening to their young boy or girl.”

An unconfirmed version of the “dictionary” of words has begun circulating online which include words that are too obscene to repeat here. Some are, frankly, bizarre however and have baffled Pakistani mobile phone users. For example, Syed Adnan Yousuf, tweeted “Why is ‘head lights’ banned?” This leaves me wondering how anyone could take offence to the term “head lights”; if “head lights” truly is on the list, then yes, that is most certainly bizarre.

Some people have decided to get round the ban by replacing words with their relevant number on the PTA’s list. This seems like a good plan, if not a little inconvenient still, as surely those attempting to get round the ban will have to refer to the “dictionary” of words every time they want to use one.

Meanwhile, in recent years, Pakistan has seen the number of mobile phone user’s boom. There are now an estimated 100 million Pakistanis using mobile phones. Making cheap calls to Pakistan in order to speak with friends and family has therefore never been easier it would seem! Perhaps just don’t send a text, as they may not receive all of it, particularly if you are discussing motoring terms…