Ban the nights!
By: Adiah Afraz
All good things have sequels. Or so I have been told by the makers of Die Hard. So if all good things have sequels, then I think my Naik Parveen column deserves a sequel too.
Now, to mellow the effects of my pompousness, this great column might not have been great at all had so many people not commented on it and led to this self-created feeling of grandeur.
For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, please refer to a piece published in this very newspaper last Tuesday titled, PTA and the Naik Perveen, and find out for yourself. For those who don’t want to make the effort, here is a brief summary and context.
On November 21, this newspaper reported that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had directed mobile phone companies to discontinue late-night call packages because they were against the social norms and values of Pakistan. (The packages not the companies, mind you)
PTA chairman Farooq Awan was quoted to have said the following: “We have received a number of complaints from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Standing Committee of Parliament, senators, MNAs and subscribers regarding the promotion of vulgarity through such advertisements and have therefore asked CMOs to immediately discontinue such packages and to present compliance reports.”
Now those of you who know me, please search in your hearts and tell me honestly. How could I not but comment on this wonderful food for thought presented to me on such a tantalising platter. And if you don’t know the answer then I would suggest to search some more and keep searching till you find it.
So I wrote a column based on this report and called the whole thing an “LOL sequence of events”. And on top of this original sin, I committed another – quite an unoriginal one – and referred to a lady senator as Ms Naik Perveen.
All this when I was fully aware that the real name of the good lady was Ms Just Perveen and nothing else. So as a consequence of this series of original and unoriginal sins, I ended up causing ripples in some unwanted waters.
Nothing nasty though. All good. Had it been nasty I wouldn’t be writing about it but hiding somewhere under the Kalma Chowk flyover (please watch this space for more on the Kalma Chowk flyover).
First of all, I was informed through some official and semi-official sources that I had made three mistakes in making this argument against the PTA ban on late-night packages.
One, I had my facts wrong. My sources, the mainstream English print media of Pakistan, were incidentally wrong too. The person spearheading the committee on the late-night packages was not Ms Perveen but Ms Nasreen.
Two, I was told in an email message that the PTA had misunderstood the recommendations made by the committee as the senators never lead the moral brigade to rectify the lifestyle of the youth. Now, I must say this is a tricky one because how those recommendations were misunderstood was never explained to me, yet made me very curious. I did ask for an explanation, but did not receive a response till the filing of this column.
Three, I was told that the senators in question found the title Naik Perveen quite funny and had a good laugh about it.
Now this piece of information was given to me by way of a postscript and I do want to observe a moment of silence for being granted due appreciation for my usually unappreciated jokes. And as a thank you present for this kind gesture, I must, on record, offer a counter-appreciation.
Now having made all my politically correct statements let me come to the point. Ok. Here is what I call an LOL sequence of events. According to my reliable print media sources, the mobile phone companies have withdrawn their petitions challenging the ban on late-night packages.
The reason is that the PTA has submitted some hard core evidence that confirms the allegations made against these packages.
This evidence consists of transcribed conversations, which PTA had intercepted to prove that late-night callers make nothing but obscene conversations.
Curious as I am to know how PTA defines obscene conversations, I can’t show my curiosity too much in public because I am afraid I might endanger the moral values of the society, which are already pretty endangered so to speak.
I do believe, however, that the people in the PTA who are brave enough to sit down and intercept vulgar conversations taking place between adult human beings, should get their anti-vulgarity shots in their brain muscles, otherwise there is a danger that the moral values of their neurons might decline.
And while they are at it, they should intercept daytime conversations of people as well because the moral values of the society need to have some quantifiable data on the fluctuating rates of vulgarity in relation to the rising and setting of the sun.
Having said that, I just want to make one thing clear to all those readers who have been writing to me since my naik perveen column got published. I will say it once so please pay attention.
Yes, I have children. Yes, I worry for them. Yes, I don’t want them to make late-night calls when they should be sleeping.
But no, I don’t endorse bans on phone calls, because the danger is that if I endorse this ban then I would want a ban on the Internet next, then a ban on late-night study groups, and then a ban on letting them out in the world to find their life later.
Gosh, this would be difficult. So why not make it easy for myself and be an effective parent instead. Or try to get as close to it as possible.