No doubt in terms of promoting investment and encouraging competition, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to some extent fulfilling its vision as at present Pakistan stands in all over the world in 9th place and in Asia it ranks 5th in Mobile phone user. The subscribers of cellular mobile in Pakistan attained the level of 128.93 million at the end of June 2013.
However, in terms of protect consumer interest, PTA failed to satisfy the consumer general complains. In their annual report 2012-13, it is clearly mentioned that the low literacy rate and some mischievous elements trouble the customers with wrong calls, obnoxious and unwanted communication. Therefore this category has the highest rate of complaints in the cellular sector which is about 43.5 percent. Illegal practices such as obnoxious, fraudulent calls/SMS constitute 17.3 percent of the complaints. Despite all these complains one of the major complains demanded by the customers are check and balance of various kinds of cellular packages related to SMS, phone call services and chatting services are deliberately neglected by both PTA and cellular companies.
On November 14, 2012, PTA instructed all cellular operating companies to quit offering chat packages of night time as it is “contrary to moral values of the society”. The directive was the same issued on September 2, 2013 by the PTA to all cellular mobile operators to immediately stop all kind of chat packages irrespective of time of the day.
However, still some companies offers these packages without mentioning night time offer like:-
- Lambi Baat offer (Just pay for the first 2 minutes and talk as much as you want!)
- Super F&F offer (Now you can enjoy unlimited calls to one of your special “Friends and Family number” at just cheap rates)
- Apna Shehr offer (Like in Chakwal for just Rs6.99 one can talk 11pm to 6pm and in some cities package offer for 24 hours)
- Awaz SMS offer (provides a user to simply record what you wish to say and send to anyone you like)
- Super Sasta package (12am to 5 pm)
- And Pakistan’s most loved youth brand (due to their offers) announces Glow 24, in which one can stay connected with their friends and family 24/7 without any time fear. (Mera dil Jo kahay ga, wohi waqt bajay ga!)
One of the famous cellular brand in the name of Social service offers are:-
- Bubble messages (send a voice message instead of a call)
- Chat room features (10 unique numbers at a time for free)
- Friend finder (by registering your nickname and enter the chat room of your choice and make new friends)
- SMS messenger (stay in touch with your buddies at all times)
- Web 2 SMS (chat with 10 unique numbers at a time for free).
Another package offered by almost all cellular companies are 5,000 SMS and 5,000 minutes, one can ask what is the use of these packages? Mobile phone companies claimed that all these packages were introduced for the entrepreneurs and businesses operating at night especially those conducting transactions abroad after later hours all avail the low cost packages. It means that we are no longer underdeveloped state, as our factories and industries work 24 hours.
Another excuse they put forward is that to utilize our network at night when the traffic load goes down to 10 percent compared to the daytime load of 90 percent, means to earn some more money in less traffic hours, these packages introduced for 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. Just imagine after matric exams students in all over the Pakistan get free for almost four months for their next admission, killing time by these packages becomes one of the their activity. All cellular companies have a right to make profits but they can’t make profits by compromising the moral degradation of our society.
In its annual report, PTA clearly mentioned too that mobile services are being availed nearly by every Pakistani regardless of his or her income level and social status, but they forget to mention education level.
They are making youth to addict in forwarding SMS, low category jokes, romantic SMS, prank calling, opposite sex friendship. Instead of introducing low rate for one special person, they can offer some constructive campaign. I still don’t understand that how one can establish a healthy communicative relationship or healthy degree of interaction between the sexes, where we define literate persons are those who can write his or her name.
In a state where only 87 percent of Pakistani children finish primary school education, only 18 percent of Pakistani women have received 10 years or more of schooling. These packages give these females the liberty to build “social and emotional ties” and even provide relaxation the traditional amount of contact permitted before marriages. Due to poor education and backward family system these female easily trapped and been blackmailed.
Not only low rate of literacy but also migrant persons using these packages caused increase in immorality. Every three years, a million people migrate from other cities and rural areas to Karachi alone. As they don’t have any entertainment in their lives, no family and relative connection, they started using these mobile packages for fun or time passing. Even Internet facility or Facebook now give them the access of all those materials, which are prohibited. Majority misused the Internet facility and very few of them inclined for knowledge, information and awareness. Some recent reports of sexual harassment of women by teenage boys points to the fact that there is a need to put in extra efforts to address this aspect and raise awareness about protecting moral values.
Moralist in Pakistan had long been crying that these packages have a bad influence on the society. Behaviorists believe that due to constant flow of information and changes in social system ‘a by ‘product of development, the number of youth indulge in immoral activity. No doubt it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to inculcate moral values among youth and help them distinguish between adventure and what is wrong. Youth constituting 27 percent of our population, PTA, should adopt some measures because blindly adopting negative aspects of developing societies resulted in a decline in our society morality.
But the problem is how can PTA takes action to stop these kinds of services as technically, there is no law that would allow to stop these services. It is the responsibilities of lawmakers that they provide protection to consumer interest if their departments fail to fulfill its duty as the motto of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is to Create a fair regulatory regime to promote investment, encourage competition, protect consumer interest and ensure high quality ICT services.”