The Pakistan government has banned "immoral" love chat services offered by mobile phone cos, dashing romantic hopes in the conservative Muslim country where dating is frowned upon. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had issued the ban last month due to protests from parents and lawmakers, but critics say it is the latest attempt at censorship.
The PTA had first stopped dirt-cheap chat rates and late-night discounts in November, but operators started offering the services under different names. So the regulator tightened the ban last month, ordering companies to stop at once all chat services, irrespective of the time of the day. In a country where parents keep the young on a tight leash and dating is considered inappropriate, late-night chatting can be a way to find love below the radar. In Pakistan, girls can be beaten or even killed by male relatives if they are in a relationship and parents like to control their offspring's marriages.