ISLAMABAD: A meeting to discuss the blasphemous material and the ban on YouTube turned into an exchange of abuses on Monday and the Pakistan Telecom Authority lobbed the issue in the court of parliament, asking legislators to pass a new law and create a new set-up to decide what is blasphemous.
After witnessing nasty scenes in the official meeting on Monday called for holding consultations for blocking access to blasphemous material on YouTube, the PTA proposed to the government to enact new laws through parliament for establishing an independent department having the mandate as well as the authority to block access of such links on the internet.
“No one is ready to take responsibility for opening up of YouTube as the PTA is just executing the orders of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and orders of other top officials. We have proposed to the government to table a bill in parliament and establish an independent forum having the authority to define the blasphemy material and then impose ban on it,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Monday.
There is nothing in the PTA act authorising a ban on YouTube and it has been done so far on the directives of the inter-ministerial committee or the court orders. Without placing a dedicated wing, the issue of blasphemous material on the internet cannot be resolved, they added.
On the other hand, in a rare episode, an official meeting in the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) witnessed an highly unwarranted situation when its DG for Strategy and Planning (S&D) was labeled as “liar” in a derogatory manner by the representative of an NGO in the presence of several other participants.
On the directives of the Lahore High Court for consulting all stakeholders for blocking access to blasphemous material before opening up of YouTube, the Monday’s meeting witnessed nasty scenes as the PTA high-ups were labeled as ‘liar’ and were threatened that they would be exposed at relevant forums.
On the orders of the LHC, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s Director General (DG) for Strategy and Development Waseem Tauqeer chaired the meeting of all the stakeholders for suggesting different ways and means to block access to blasphemous material on the internet in Pakistan and inform the court about it on the next hearing.
Official sources who attended the meeting told The News that representatives of an NGO, Bytes for All, accused the top officials of the PTA in the presence of several stakeholders saying “you are a liar” and threatened to fix them. “I have never seen such a disgusting attitude during an official meeting in my whole life,” a participant of the meeting said.
When contacted, DG PTA Waseem Tauqeer confirmed after the meeting on phone the indecent behavior of the counsel of Bytes for All but he remained cool and calm because he wanted to honour the orders of the LHC for suggesting options to block access to the blasphemous material on the internet.
“Despite the indecent behaviour in the official meeting, we have finalised our report which will be submitted before the LHC on July 24, 2013,” he concluded.
However, the sources said that the meeting was aimed at finding out technical solutions to the lingering issue as in case of opening up of YouTube, there are 70,000 links on the internet having blasphemous material and without having dedicated staff for filtering such sites the problems will not be resolved.Pakistani authorities had contacted Google to restrict the unwarranted internet sites as they did in case of India but Google authorities did not entertain Islamabad’s request.