Authorities can block Public’s access to Social Media in Pakistan

authorities can block Social media access if needed

Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan to eliminate the access to blasphemous content on social media even at the expense of blocking the public’s access to social media platforms.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Tuesday in the case related to blasphemous pages on social media ordered the Interior Minister to appear before the court on Wednesday. He said: “Due to the delicacy, importance, and seriousness of the issue, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, be directed to appear in person tomorrow.”

Justice Siddiqui also observed that he expects Chaudhary Nisar to “take some steps in his own supervision to eliminate the evil, even at the cost of blocking the entirety social media.”

The petition filed by Salman Shahid in IHC stated that blasphemy was being committed through certain social media pages. There are around 31 million active social media users in Pakistan out of 35.1 million Internet users and Cybercrime Law was drafted last year to tackle the online crimes.

According to Salman Shahid’s petition, bloggers including Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas allegedly created pages like Bhainsa, Mochi, and Roshni to commit blasphemy.

On 27th February, the court ordered the relevant authorities to block “blasphemous pages” on social media and also called various government officials including; PTA Chairman Ismail Shah, IGP Tariq Masood Yasin, IT Secretary Rizwan Bashir, NR3C Project Director Shafiqur Rehman, along with Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit their replies and appear before the court, which they did.

Salman Shahid previously approached FIA, the primary investigating agency for cybercrimes, to lodge FIRs against the bloggers after conducting an inquiry. Justice Siddiqui at the court proceeding compared blasphemers to “terrorists”, justifying the comparison by asking what else could be worse than such acts.

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