Geopolitical threat of SMS bundles


Why banning cell phone packages is pivotal for national security

Broken record time; the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is facing multi-pronged challenges and multitudinous predicaments. What makes the situation worse is that when the government comes up with the solution to eradicate the miseries of the masses, the first stumbling block en route to salvation are the masses themselves. The recent hue and cry over PTA’s decision to ban cell phone packages is a classic example.

When you’re facing threats as menacing as terrorism, the intractable Karachi issue, power outages, economic collapse and separatist movements and your enemies are as daunting as the Taliban, RAW, Israel and Veena Malik, you’d obviously strike at the most unexpected time and where the enemy least expects it. The Art of War, anyone? Hence, banning the cell phone packages was a step in the right direction with regards to hitting all those birds with a single telecom stone.

Only if the masses were smart enough to discern the fact that banning cell phone packages is not intended to take away teenagers’ favourite late night pastime – they have a million apps for that – it is designed to safeguard Pakistan against the plethora of existentialist threats that it faces. And given below are several plausible explanations for that.

After taking over the helm of the government following the May elections what was the first thing that the PML-N government did on the energy front? No, after it had blamed Musharraf and PPP of the biggest energy crisis since Adam and Eve ran out of matchboxes? It cleared the circular debt. Now many would know that circular debt works in an “A owes B, B owes C, C owes A” way, but while A, B and C were duly identified, A-minor was kept hidden: scratch cards. Yes, that’s right, unpaid/borrowed cell phone scratch cards had severely exacerbated the circular debt, and hence by taking away various cell phone packages you’re basically blocking one major route for energy stakeholders and defaulters to put together any mountain of debt in the future.

The role of mobile scratch cards in solving the power predicament doesn’t end there. In its National Power Policy (NPP) the government identified alternative energy sources as being pivotal in bridging the current 4,300 MW power shortfall. And scratch cards are as alternative as energy sources get. With an average energy content of 10 MJ/kg, scratch cards can augment the power production, especially since banning cell phone packages could mean that less scratch cards would be used by telecom companies and hence they could be utilised for power generation, much to the delight of the national grid. Furthermore, it is no rocket science to figure out who benefitted the most from the awesome twosome of late night power outages and late night mobile packages, apart from adolescent hormones of course.

Economically speaking, reducing expenditure on mobile scratch cards should bolster the economy by threefold. Furthermore, when people actually spend less money on their late night adventures or mobile driven procrastinations and more on feeding their family, the current inflation might not seem that bad after all. Also there would be less whining about the GST, when no one would bother getting balance for their mobiles in the first place. Once you counter the fiscal danger of cell phone packages, the geopolitical threat of SMS bundles can also be negated.

On the terror front, some noteworthy politicians’ reluctance in nipping the proverbial evil in the metaphorical bud has been unveiled. The All Parties Conference to design the national security policy was postponed owing to a certain leader hobnobbing with Prince Charles in London. The said leader – who shall remain unnamed because of his insistence on anonymity – had planned to hook up with the prince in the UK during one of their late night “chitchats”. And hence, for obvious reasons, these packages had become a threat to our national security.

Similarly, this leader who is a former Pakistan cricket captain and the chief of PTI, but whose name shall remain anonymous, is said to be good friends with the Taliban. In fact when Waliur Rehman was cited and droned in May this year, the TTP leader’s number had been found in the Friends and Family numbers of the PTI chief, who is also Jemima Khan’s husband, but shall remain unnamed owing to his condition of anonymity.

Another politician who heads JUI-F but will also remain unnamed owing to similar conditions is known to send ‘Zubaida Aapa ke Totkay’ and Faraz’s poetry to one Ehsanullah Ehsan. This leader and the abovementioned politician, both of whom are often seen playing “Jew-Jew” in playgrounds, have made it necessary for the federal government to take notice of the terroristic and geopolitical threat of SMS bundles.

Also, as a keen follower of the Rehmanmalikean school of thought, I believe that cell phones, the packages, communication and language in general are deadlier than any weapons of mass destruction or nuclear arsenal. Any means of reducing the cell phone communication between terrorists, who had been getting easy loads too easily for the government’s comfort, would be a massive step towards regional peace and security.

The PTA has been giving missed signals (pun unintended) with regards to what it’s banning and what it isn’t, but rest assured, under the government’s auspices the more the authority bans the safer and the more developed Pakistan would be. It is my humble request to my fellow Pakistanis, to avoid jumping the gun too soon, and appreciate the government’s coup de grace.

The writer is a financial journalist and a cultural critic. Email: [email protected], Twitter: @khuldune


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