Authorities fail to implement ban on cubicles in Internet cafes


Contrary to the tall claims made by the government ensuring the removal of individual cabins from internet cafes to prevent the mushrooming use of pornographic sites, most of these cafes in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are still running with such cabins, providing a safe environment for the masses, including students, to watch any type of videos.
Several years ago, owing to these partitions in internet cafés, a horrific incident took place in garrison city when the owner of an internet café constructed small cabins in his café and installed cameras in it. After its inauguration, the café was frequented by couples. They came alone or as couples, went into the cabins and viewed websites on the computers. The owner of the café recorded footage of these couples and started blackmailing them. A disc of several couples involved in lewd behaviour was compiled and sent to several countries. After that, a gang got hold of the disc, tracked down the families of the couples and delivered the discs to them. This resulted in the suicide of three of the girls involved in the scandal and the murder of one by her father.
The incident might be considered enough to turn the attention of the country’s stakeholders to keep strict check on internet cafes and impose age restrictions on the use of these cafes but things remain almost the same. During the early 1990s, the mushrooming growth of internet cafes resulted in high rates of internet use and now in just Rs 20 one can use the facility for more than 30 minutes.
Most internet cafes are frequented by students between the age of 15 and 20. “Students often come here to use the internet, it is up to them whether they use this facility for bad purposes or for learning more about their studies,” said Jamal Nasir, an internet café owner. He said they made cabin partitions to provide customers with a secure environment for using the computer. “We need customers and how can we go into loss by declining our customers internet use,” he said. He added, however, that most of their business currently relied on scanning and printing services but some of the café owners depended on attracting teens with unrestrained online access to pornographic material.
He admitted that many students were regular customers who came there on a daily basis. When interviewed, some students said that they used the internet clubs for using Facebook or to get notes for their studies. On the other hand, a student Jawad Akhtar said that many of his school fellows rushed to cafes after bunking classes. “Most of my fellows visit the cafe primarily to watch pornography,” said the student.
Irtaza Khalid, a cafe owner in Karachi Company has been running his café for several years. A number of passengers and bus drivers visit his café as it is situated near the Karachi Company bus terminal.
He said most of the visitors came to his café for watching Indian movies and he had made small cabins in his café to provide a chance to his customers to watch anything. When asked whether any government officials visited his net café to remove these cabins, he replied that there were no restrictions on making these cabins and no one came to him for their removal. “We do not know about any such law, it is a common business which can be started by anyone without any restrictions,” he said.
Yousaf Mirza, another internet café owner while talking to Pakistan Today said that separate cabins were not allowed but their removal would affect their business. “Last time when the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA ) officials visited my café, they advised me to remove these cabins, otherwise they would break them on their own,” he added.
He told that the officials concerned visited their cafes in civil clothes and often raided the cabins. “They warned they would close down my café upon finding any pornographic movie in any of the computers,” said Yousaf, adding that some customers did downloaded such movies but the officials had already cautioned him not to accept any excuses.
Café owners told further that about 500 cafes were present in Islamabad but very few of them succeeded in continuing their business after the mentioned incident. “There are a number of restrictions by the authorities concerned after the regretful happening forced the owners to close down their internet cafes,” said Aslam, a café owner.
However, most café owners have established their cafes in the basements of different plazas to hide themselves from the government’s eye.
Pakistan Today has learnt that it was the responsibility of the PTA and the Ministry of Information and Technology to monitor the cyber cafes and to bind their owners to maintain records of all the customers.
Nevertheless, on visiting a number of these cafes it was observed that the majority of owners were paying no heed to the rules and laws introduced in this regard which remains a question mark on the performance of the authorities concerned until the removal of separate cabins from internet cafes.


  1. my name is shams a net cafe owner i think no need to break cabins just take an eye to main server and see what he shared. because mostly porn sites are locked.its my opinion.

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