Pakistani Ban on 1700 Texted Words in Effect This Week

The Pakistani government has banned almost 1700 words considered obscene and offensive from text messages. Users are expected to ban these words starting this week.

Some find the ban confusing. Words such as drunk, flatulent, Showtime, athlete's foot, and taxi are included in the ban; others are understandable (see an unofficial partial list here - warning: many obscenities here!).

Mohammad Younis, a spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), told the Guardian that the ban was "the result of numerous meetings and consultations with stakeholders." Apparently, the decision follows complaints about offensive texts from users. 

Americans may question whether Pakistans enjoy freedom of speech as we do in the United States. According to the Guardian,

While admitting that Pakistan's constitution guaranteed free speech, the [PTA] regulator told mobile phone companies that such freedom was "not unrestricted" under court rulings. Furthermore, said the telecom watchdog, they had obligations under their licences to prevent "obnoxious communication."

Discussion Starters:

  • What is your view of the Pakistani government's decision? Consider your own cultural background and how this may influence your opinion.
  • What are the possible effects of the ban on business in Pakistan?