A life sans soap operas

Published: September 4, 2010
Soap operas aired on Indian television channels have been popular in Pakistan for over a decade, as are new shows like “Chhote Ustad”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Soap operas aired on Indian television channels have been popular in Pakistan for over a decade, as are new shows like “Chhote Ustad”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Soap operas aired on Indian television channels have been popular in Pakistan for over a decade, as are new shows like “Chhote Ustad”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY Soap operas aired on Indian television channels have been popular in Pakistan for over a decade, as are new shows like “Chhote Ustad”. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: Indian television channels are currently off-air but the demand for soap operas aired on these channels continues.

Taken off air in compliance with an order by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, cable operators in Karachi have no choice but to comply with the ruling. According to Salman from Multi Plus Communication, a cable operator which supplies services to residents of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, “These Indian channels have no licenses, the Supreme Court says that having a TV license is mandatory (to air programming in the country), once the license gets made they too would be on air.”

When asked about viewer demands, Salman said, “I don’t know about the ratings but people only watch these Indian channels.”

A representative of Cable Home Vision Communication, which operates in the Cantonment area, told The Express Tribune, “Our approach is to operate as many cable channels as possible. We were still running the Indian channels until a Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) official visited us and told us not to run Indian. So, finally we had to abide by the law”

According to Nasreen at World Call Telecom Limited, “Pemra issued the order that no legal telecom service provider can show Indian Channels on TV, hence we are following the rules.” However, another representative said that there was a number of requests being received for Indian plays.

According to another operator, “Clients are forwarding requests to allow the channels to air.”

“There is a relatively high demand from women, who cannot survive for even a day without Indian channels and soap operas,” says Salman. “We do not want to lobby against the decision as talks are underway between the government agency and the cable operators association.”

According to Cable Home Vision, “There is a big market for Indian TV channels, and the decision affects our operations in the vicinity where we operate in, but one cannot make a move in any direction and lobby for it as the decision needs to be abided by.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Rj
    Sep 5, 2010 - 1:10AM

    I have subscribed indian channels on youtube as they upload complete episode with no commercial so it’s a good choice.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 5, 2010 - 1:31AM

    They can tax the Indian Channels and allow them to operate in Pakistan. This way Pak govt earns much needed money. And, there will be healthy competition for Pak TV channels and they will get a chance to up their game.

    With modern Tech this ban will become ineffective. Many channels in India stream their content with a delay of few minutes on the Internet. So, the Pak Supreme Court will ban the Internet too?Recommend

  • Sep 5, 2010 - 2:14AM

    Its very sad that they are still trying to somehow get the licence of those culture attacking soaps… Its very sad… ok they(Cable operators) want licence for these channels then PEMRA and Supreme Court of Pakistan should put a term in between the licence agreement and that term should be on each TV channel opening in Indian territory Pakistan will also give a licence to one Indian Channel because We know that Indian Soaps have got great market but then what about our local TV channel owners. I just want to ask one question to those women who are so called dying because of ban on these Indian Channels that Are You a really Pakistani or Not. Cuz time which we are facing, our industrial Growth is jammed, Floods are on its high, Corruption is on its high, Economic growth coming down still you don’t want to help Indian media Industry rather than helping local industry by increasing the viewer ship of local dramas. Believe me Pakistan is producing Golden dramas just once try to sit for almost 1 hour before a Pakistani Drama you will sure start taking interest in that….Please Help our industry, Help Pakistan…..Recommend

  • Raheel
    Sep 5, 2010 - 3:25AM

    My mother is pretty…. desensitised ever since these channels went off air and i think many like me have noticed that momz have gone pretty sensitive after constantly watching these super tragic , family cospiracy anything possible in love concept soaps…. for almost a decade now….i think it’s a good idea every now and then for authorities to take off these channel for emotional detoxification of aunties lol Recommend

  • Sengathir
    Sep 5, 2010 - 8:06AM

    If somebody ban such serials in India too, I will be very happy.. It will save lot of useful manhours, it will give lot of time for wives to take care of their family.

    It is horrible to see the repetitive close-up shots of these serials…Recommend

  • Sep 5, 2010 - 1:29PM

    I disagree with this News story, Indian Soap Operas due to their 100,234,859,375 episodes lose charm at certain point of time, Pakistani viewers have come back to Pakistani soaps and dramas and are no more interested to switch Starplus or anyother channel for at least Indian dramas, the no of advertisements in Pakistani shows speak volume.

    Ps: Chote Ustad or Indian Idol is not Soap opera.Recommend

  • Neha Khan
    Sep 5, 2010 - 1:45PM

    @ Anoop… It is not a matter of “banning” Indian channels. It is just that they were being shown unlawfully in the country, without paying the required landing right fee. Since in India all Pakistani channels are banned you think we are doing the same here. No my dear, we have bigger hearts than you people :)

    And I have been to India thrice and know exactly where is money more needed. The richest in India is probably richer than the richest Pakistani but the kind of poverty you see in India is not to be seen in Pakistan. Anyway, I request you to keep the comment in context of the write-up. Breaking law is nothing to be proud of (by anyone, Pakistani or Indian) and Indian channels were being aired without fullfilling the legal requirement. Recommend

  • Neha Khan
    Sep 5, 2010 - 1:59PM

    @ Tanzeel.. totally agree with you. Thank God for our entertainment channels to have realised it so quickly that we need to make drama as we have made it since ever. Watching dramas on HUM, ARY and Geo is a treat again. Indian soaps are not our taste.. please, no close ups and ‘lightenings’ in every scene, no outlandish sets, no 100 kgs of make up and jewellery on every female for us. We are better off with our more subtle and sophiscated style. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 5, 2010 - 5:13PM


    “It is just that they were being shown unlawfully in the country, without paying the required landing right fee. ”

    –> Right. But, Indian channels are not allowed a license to operate and thus the Govt is going against the wishes of Pakistani people who apparently love those channels. If its a tit for tat for India banning Pakistani channels then I’d ask who is the loser? Indians dont seem to connect that much to Pakistani TV shows or Pakistani Movies. Cable operators dont run Pakistani movies on illegal channels here or the TV shows.

    No channel would refuse a readily available market like in Pakistan and would go through the legal procedures. If Pakistan does allow Indian channels by giving them the license to operate then it’ll not only show Pakistanis are more mature but will also fulfill the wishes of Pakistanis who watch those channels for some strange reason.

    “And I have been to India thrice and know exactly where is money more needed. ”

    –> India is a poor country, I agree wholeheartedly. But, its self-sufficient and is the fastest growing economy after China. It will become the fastest in 5 years time. India doesn’t bring out the begging bowl every time the budget is around the corner. Remember Friends of Pakistan embarrassment?

    So, while I agree that there are a LOT of poverty in India, I would also point out that we are working on it and the proof of that is our growth of the Economy which grew by 8.5+ % this quarter.

    To come back to my original point. With the number of Internet users increasing the Pakistan govt will see the ban(effective) neutralized. Recommend

  • Neha Khan
    Sep 5, 2010 - 10:36PM

    @ Anoop.. Once there was a man whose half body was in heaven and the other half in hell. A passerby asked him, “how does it feel?”, and the man replied, “I am okay on average!!”. This is what stats can do to reality. So the 8.5% growth rate or the increasing per capita income does not mean much when all it is does is benefit a certain segment of the population and, thus, increase income disparities. Let me clarify here, I do not underestimate India’s progress, it has sure made huge improvements and have come out of what in 80s came to be known as the “Hindu growth rate”, but I think it is the false hype that is a little bothersome. Comparison with China is as much political as wrong. Anyway, I won’t be talking more about it, as it becomes another meaningless debate like any other Pakistan-India debate.

    By the way, no one watches Pakistani movies even in Pakistan, leave alone in India :) But TV, especially dramas, is a different ball game altogether. And Indian’s lack of interest in anything Pakistani can be gauged by your presence at this site!! Recommend

  • zaara019
    Sep 5, 2010 - 11:27PM

    i miss alot sahara one channelRecommend

  • Salman
    Sep 6, 2010 - 7:29AM

    Thank God!!!!

    Good riddance to the junk shown on the indian channels. I cant stand them and i hope they stay banned. The content and the way it is delivered make me puke! Cant stand the abuse of urdu.
    And since India has never shown any pakistan channels, there is a perfect excuse to get rid of this junk. I do realise that a lot of the uneducated pakistani women do love these channels but once the addiction wears off, they will return to normal.

    Hats off to PEMRA. For the first time ever.Recommend

  • Bitter Truth
    Sep 6, 2010 - 9:31AM

    It is not about cultural invasion or India factor. If soaps churned out by China or U.K. or whatever had begun displacing Pakistani channels of their viewership in large numbers then I would have advocated banning them too. Why? Pakis love anything “faran” and we all know “ghar ki murgi dal barabar.”

    Pakistani tv channels, and the thousands of individuals who depend on them for their livelihood, will be going the way of looolllyyyywood in 10 years time if these Indian channels, however fascinating although I dn’t know, are allowed to stay on air. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 6, 2010 - 10:46AM


    Yes, yes, double yes. I know there is poverty, illiteracy, Casteism, hunger, malnutrition in India. I live here. I see the wrong that are to be corrected every day on the street. I was from lower middle class not too long ago. The fact that I am optimistic about India is hurting you in some small way when you look at the situation in your own country. I’ve already acknowledged that all the ills that you talk about exist in India.

    “So the 8.5% growth rate or the increasing per capita income does not mean much when all it is does is benefit a certain segment of the population and, thus, increase income disparities.”

    The income disparity exists. But, this is a sign of the rapid improvement India has made in the past decade and this disparity is evident in all BRIC nations. Pre-1990s was a nightmare for us. After that we’ve been one of the fastest growing in the world. And, 8.5% is HUGE growth. Ask any economist and he’ll acknowledge that a predominantly poor country that kind of growth is bringing massive change and bringing millions out of poverty.

    World Bank says,”Between 1997 and 2005, poverty rates fell from about 36% to 28%. Consistent with India’s priorities, the World Bank has been particularly effective in supporting areas critical to the country’s development goals.”


    And, on what basis should be not be compared with China when it comes to Economics? China has done a remarkable job of reducing poverty. We would do well to learn from it. No other country in the world can be compared to China apart from India. Ofcourse, in structural terms we are more stable and we dont have to face massive political changes as we are a democracy.

    “And Indian’s lack of interest in anything Pakistani can be gauged by your presence at this site!!”

    –> Express Tribune is one of the many news media websites I visit everyday. Its very good and the opinion sections and the comments section offer an insight into Pakistan which is really interesting. I do the same with many news websites from different countries. I have traveled extensively through South of India and I can say with extreme confidence that Pakistani plays and dramas are NOT watched here. The language is different.

    And, I visit Pakistani websites to gauge how much trouble my country is going to face as a result of Pakistan’s mismanagement of its own country and its suicidal policies of formenting Terror in its neighboring countries.

    There is a lot of cultural exchanges happening between India and Pakistan. But, its predominantly one-way. There is no denying that.

    The irony is Pakistan was created on the theory that its culture and traditions were different that of India. Everytime these cultural exchanges take place Pakistanis are undermining the two-nation theory which is welcome. There is absolutely no difference between 2 set of Human Beings.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 6, 2010 - 11:16AM


    The World Bank Director of Development Policy and a leading authority on the effects of globalization, took part in an hour-long live online discussion on globalization.

    “Giby Varghese:
    Is it that due to globalization in India the Rich is becoming more rich and the poor more poor and if yes what can be the solution for such a problem
    David Dollar:
    It is not true that the poor are getting poorer in India. India’s national household surveys reveal that there has been very substantial poverty reduction during the 1990s. Integration with the global market has stimulated off-farm employment, which one of the keys to improving the lives of the poor. Go to the State Planning Commission website to get the detailed data on poverty reduction in India, as well as improvements in education and other social indicators.”


    All I can see is hope.Recommend

  • saad
    Sep 6, 2010 - 12:20PM

    and there is no law against promoting hypocrisy: when local channels show indian serials, entertainment programs and movies! the ‘regional’ channels show indian film songs and movies! local music channels can’t survive without indian movie promos and songs! local artists and national heroes at the drop of a hat fly to mumbai (finding it safer than karachi and no fear of thackerays) to appear on reality programs and competition shows! no law against importing onion and potato from india! on the other hand the law encourages and promotes illegal telecast of the serials when the cable operators show them on one of the in house channels. i wish there was a strict law to keep the country ‘paak’ – living up to its name. i wish there was at least slight semblance of Islam in Islamabad. i wish laws would come into force to remove the mess we are in instead of worrying about trivial matters like to show or not to show indian channels? and lastly i challenge the mainstream local channels to air their serials on star plus, sony etc. Recommend

  • Neha Khan
    Sep 6, 2010 - 7:52PM

    @ Anoop

    I can give you counter-arguments for pretty much everything you have said but I’ll stick to what I said yesterday, “I won’t be talking more about it, as it becomes another meaningless debate like any other Pakistan-India debate.” I had Indian class-fellows for five years and I very well know the futility of such debates. All the best to you and your country. And take some relaxant please :) Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 7, 2010 - 3:07PM


    I’d love to have heard those counter arguments. Seems like your are determined to put down my country in economic terms. While I agree with what you have said I’ve also given another point of view which I’ve explained in detail.

    If you think you know more about the Indian economy than the WB chief then please enlighten me. I gave the WB’s example as they are a neutral agency and have the best of minds and resources to back up their claims.

    I repeat India has its share of problem and over-whelming share of poverty in the world. But, if there is one word that you can use to describe India that would be Hope.

    I understand that Pakistanis love to compare their country with India but frankly India is in a differ9ent league. Before 190 Pakistani economy was in far better shape than India’s and the Human Indices were better. Now, the things are turning around for both India and Pakistan.

    Years of stability and investment in Democracy in India is paying off whereas the opposite is happening in Pakistan. Years of short-sightedness, coupled with its divisive Ideology is having a catastrophic effect on Pakistan. Go to any newspaper in the world and search Pakistan news and see the kind of impact Pakistan has on the world(Before the floods). Do the same with India, you’ll see an opposite picture.

    Is the whole world wrong and Pakistani perspective right? Recommend

  • kittu
    Oct 14, 2010 - 4:18AM

    Anoop / Neha,

    I want to produce a romantic soap-opera serial between 2 patriotic individuals from India and Pakistan. Any casting Ideas..?Recommend

  • Neha Khan
    Oct 16, 2010 - 10:54PM

    @ Kittu

    Yeah, I am ready if Anoop is ready :)) But for that you need to change the plot a little. As a start the Pakistani would be patriotic but objective, while the Indian would be patriotic and delusional. Number two, the Pakistani would prefer a crisp 18 episode drama serial (won’t mind even a shorter one), with a proper, meaningful story, and I am sure the Indian would go for the Saas-bahu drama that is into its episode number 91,743 with a totally inane storyline. Now its your job to find a solution :)) You can find this difference here too… the patriotic Pakistani made her point and concluded the story, while the patriotic Indian, in his typical soap style, went on and on and on. Recommend

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