Warning! The PTA might not approve of this bakwas

Published: November 21, 2011

Banning is the stupidest thing you can do because when something is in the open, it can be tracked monitored, checked, and oddly enough, controlled.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has decided to ban the word ‘bakwaas’ (nonsense). Let me say this right here – that is such bakwaas.

It has also banned the word Jesus Christ. There go Merry Christmas messages to Christian friends. There goes, now that I think about it, this particular conversation I found in my phone:

“Hey I heard you were ill – did you really faint in Chemistry class today?”

“Jesus, how fast does news spread around school anyway? I am feeling much better.”

To be honest though, I am not that fussed. Stranger, inexplicable things have happened. Facebook, for instance was banned (yeah, remember that? Oh, the horror, the sheer horror).

And that time when that a 15-year-old wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, asking him to ban a list of websites he had found unIslamic.

The banning will never achieve the desired result. Banning is the stupidest thing you can do because when something is in the open, it can be tracked monitored, checked, and oddly enough, controlled. Legality affords accountability and control. When something is banned however, that means illegal channels, dangerous new by-passes, underground trends and lack of control over the situation. It means creating something of nothing. It means paying attention.

And the least important thing any government organisation can pay attention to is a list of Punjabi, Urdu and English swear words that people may or may not use in text messages.

My belief in the idiocy of banning stems from school. In eighth grade, there was stir in the school library. Rumours spread, eyebrows were raised, until finally one teacher spilled the news – a parent had found some ‘questionable content’ in a book his son had borrowed from the library, and had written an angry later to school about it. Next thing we knew, teachers shuffled around awkwardly as they tried to comb through each and every English and Urdu book,  in the library, wondering where they had gone wrong and wondering what to keep. Where does questionable content become a life lesson? Our library stocks ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’, which deals with rape – would the aforementioned parent have written another letter to school about ‘questionable content’?

How do you know what to ban or even how much you should ban? Where do you draw the line? Let’s say you take the parents side and say it was perfectly acceptable for him to check what his 13-year-old son was exposed to. Understandable. But the PTA is not a parent. The PTA is not supposed to be a parent, the “I’ll scrub your mouth with soap if you say that word again” kind. And if it is a parent, it’s a pretty lousy parent – focusing on some of the weirdest aspects of whether or not its children can say ‘devil’, or ‘idiot’. They will never understand that for every 1,500 words they ban there will be another 1,500 they have missed or that for every rule they enforce there will that that many people trying to break it, and creating controversy. They will never understand what kind of ruckus and attention they have drawn to matters of no importance.

Which is why, as people say:

“Remind me again why athletes foot is banned?”

There is another word you could describe the whole situation – it’s all just plain bewaqoofi (stupidity).

And yes, that word is banned.


Meiryum Ali

Meiryum Ali

A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.facebook.com/a2zStuff Xurmat Xara

    Bakwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas ;)Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/NahyanMirza Nahyan Mirza

    Also the word CONDOM is banned.. There go the billions spent by the government on promoting Aids Control and Birth Control Practices ;)Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/ Forbidden Fruit

    (Copy Pasting my tweet featuring some very obscene banned words) Thank u PTA. Wish u get “athlete’s Foot” n “Fart” like “fairies”, “Queer” “Loosers” Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Loved it.

    The sheer lunacy of PTI’s moral policing both appals and amuses me.Recommend

  • Aftab Siddiqui

    Well, you are raising your voice quite late on this topic, people have discussed it and ripped it off but nevertheless valid points raised.. Recommend

  • 9th Street

    I couldn’t agree more with every word! This situation is the epitomy of idiocy, stupidity, and other such adjectives which have probably been banned, as well. The most mockable form of fascism EVER! My Indain friend said it best after hearing about this; “dude, your government has way too much time”. What the ‘heck’ is wrong with people?!?Recommend

  • Light

    simple solution was to increase the cost of sms and calls and stop all night packages.

    This can do wonders :)Recommend

  • Beefeater

    If they ban it, lets start a civil disobedience by texting those words among friends. Recommend

  • PTA

    Come on ET . Enough has been said but nothing has been done yet so GET OVER FAST !!

    Controversially yours PTARecommend

  • Mj

    Taking offence at words. whether spoken or written, is in my opinion a mark of of small and petty mind. Plus, can anyone tell me why the heck is the wikipedia pages of Mahmoud Ghaznavi and a few others are blocked? Absolutely pathetic that PTA is now undertaking the task of not only moral policing but also thought and information control. Say no to censorship.Recommend

  • Mj

    Correction: The Mahmoud Ghaznavi page now appears to be unblocked, however the page for Muhammad of Ghor (Mohammad Ghouri) is still blocked as are many others.Recommend

  • Rational Mind

    They should ban Porn on the web first thing and make the life of parents easierRecommend

  • http://scallywagandvagabond.com scallywag

    Which is tantamount to saying you are free to express yourselves as long as we approve it first. Or can we really argue that the PTA have a point in saying that in certain instances the copious use of certain words goes overboard and all it wants to do is spare us? Or is it a subtle attempt by authorities to steer public discourse which with the advent of twitter has multiplied a thousand times in a way that authorities can still monitor and affect the public’s discourse? But then again how does the censoring of engagement of topics still come within the ambit of the right to freely express ourselves and can we really argue here in the Western world we have it so good when we are being continuously clipped and watched by authorities when we choose to express ourselves in a public forum?


  • Edena

    Couldn’t agree with RATIONAL MIND more… Banning porn should be the first step before banning anything senseless like these words! That would be the right thing to do morally, religiously and smartly!Recommend

  • sidjeen

    did not knew that bakwas was also banned but try this how do you ban a word that can be written in so many ways like bakwaas bakwaaas baakkwass and so on these PTA guys are really idiots one more reason for me to hate authorities in this country God Why always Us.Recommend

  • Mohammad Owais Yacoob

    jo bhe ha .. banda bara fit ha jisne list banai ha! Aaaah u passed every test for vocab my frd :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely written. Although this issue is turning out to be stillborn the way to counter it would be for all, young and old, to decided not to SMS for one day every month. This would cause the service providers to lose big revenue and jump on the heads on the PTA and consumer power would rule.Recommend

  • oops

    Don’e ban porn! As it is people aren’t getting laid in Pakistan and are constantly blowing stuff up.Recommend

  • PTA officials

    Ahh we are just kidding…. :PRecommend

  • http://chs.prime.edu.pk Mansoor

    There go Merry Christmas messages to Christian friends. According to Zakir Naik saying merry christmas is haraam and wrong It is even in the state of shirk. (it is a good act i guess). Recommend

  • umm

    You shouldn’t think so much..Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Mansoor: Zakir Naik is not the mouthpiece of God. Consider what merry christmas means. It means happy/joyous (merry) celebration of the birth of a prophet (christmas). Is that haraam? THINK.Recommend

  • http://sofaykaaaloo.blogspot.com Shahzaib Quraishi

    They have included the word masturbate in the list twice, failing to spell it correctly either time!!! That is how stupid these people are… and to think that they can decide what is good for us!!!

  • nouman

    freedom of speech is a sign of a tolrant civilised socity which we are not! here in our country the AHMADIYYA COMUNITY can not say them selves muslim which they are so if cristians are baned to say one word it doesnt matter realy Recommend

  • nouman

    freedom of speech is a sign of a tolract and civilised society which we are not Recommend