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IHC directs PTA to block social media pages, websites containing blasphemous content

February 28, 2017

Islamabad

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here Monday directed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block social media pages or websites containing blasphemous material.

IHC bench directed lower mentioned respondents and inspector general Islamabad police to submit reply within one week and to appear in person next date of hearing on March 7.

The order came in response to a petition against blasphemous pages on social media seeking directions for the government to block all these pages and initiate legal proceedings against the page administrators.

Petition has been filed by a citizen, Salman Shahid, through his counsel, Muhammad Tariq Asad, advocate. Petitioner has nominated federation of Pakistan through secretary ministry of interior, secretary ministry of information technology, director general (DG) federal investigation agency (FIA) and chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) as respondents.

Legal counsel for the petitioner while hearing of the case, argued before the court that some people committed blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and other prophets through the medium of social media. This act has strongly provoked sentiments of Muslims. Pakistani law suggests strict punishments for the blasphemers.

Petitioner adopted in the petition that blasphemy has been committed through certain pages on social media against Allah Almighty, prophets and Quran-e-Karim. Five bloggers including Professor Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas created pages like ‘Bhainsa’ ‘Mochi’ and Roshni to commit blasphemy through these.

Before filing this petition, petitioner also contacted FIA requesting the agency to lodge FIRs against these bloggers after inquiry. A deputy director FIA had assured the petitioner that an FIR will be registered against these bloggers under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code after seeking legal opinion from FIA’s legal branch. Later petitioner came to know that the deputy director FIA directed an investigation officer to conduct an inquiry against Professor Salman Haider and till conclusion of the inquiry he was asked not to leave the country. Meanwhile, a judicial magistrate of Islamabad Abdul Ghafoor Kakar had allowed investigating and registering FIR against the said bloggers but in first week of January, all the five bloggers became missing from their homes and later they came back.

On February 1 and 2, it came to the petitioner’s knowledge through media reports that strict action has been taken against the officers who had been doing investigation in this particular cases following legal procedure.

Later it was also cleared by the FIA that it has not registered any case against the bloggers after receiving applications whereas there were some news in media before the emergence of this press release that the case has been registered against the bloggers.

Petitioner has mentioned in the petition that the religious people had demanded registration of cases against these bloggers. He contended that due to all these developments, the bloggers gained more confidence and the blasphemy is continuing through social media that is creating agony and unrest among Muslim Ummah.

Petitioner has prayed to the court to direct the respondents to block all such pages on social media, initiate legal proceedings against the administrators and ministry of interior may be directed not to influence the legal proceedings.

 

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