Monday, March 27, 2017

Shutting down Facebook not the solution to blasphemy, interior secretary tells IHC

85 percent blasphemous content has been removed from social media, says Interior Secretary

ISLAMABAD: Interior Secretary Arif Khan argued in the Islamabad High Court on Monday that shutting down social media such as Facebook is not the solution to blasphemy.

During hearing of a case regarding blasphemous content on social media, the Interior Secretary said that as much as 85 percent of blasphemous content has been removed from social media. 

“However, blocking Facebook is not the solution to blasphemy,” Arif Khan argued in the court.

The Interior Secretary highlighted the ongoing clampdown by the Federal Investigation Agency against individuals posting blasphemous content on social media and pointed out that most of the blasphemous content on social networking sites has been deleted.

Of the blasphemous content online, the Secretary told IHC that only 10 to 15 percent of such content remains on social media.

He further said that three individuals have been arrested so far for allegedly posting blasphemous content on social media. Of these individuals, two have been found to be directly involved in this crime, the Secretary told the court.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman Syed Ismail Shah told the court that action has been taken against 40 Facebook pages spreading blasphemous content on the site. He further said that the social networking giant was cooperating with the Pakistani authorities in removing such content from its pages. 

IHC judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who is hearing the case, expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the concerned institutions pertaining to removal of blasphemous content from social media. 

The judge, however, criticised the performance of the IT Department and said Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar has been burdened with a lot of work load in this regard.

He also demanded a progress report on the amendment pertaining to the Electronic Crimes Act.


The FIA on Friday arrested three individuals in connection with a case pertaining to publishing and circulating of blasphemous content on social media being heard by IHC. The three were presented before an anti-terrorism court and handed over to the FIA for a seven-day remand.

Justice Shaukut Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC has been hearing the case.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to take all possible measures to block blasphemous content on social media.

Terming ‘blasphemous’ content on social media as a “nefarious attempt to play with the emotions of the Muslim Ummah”, the Prime Minister instructed authorities to take effective measures to remove all blasphemous content from social media and prevent any such content from circulating on the digital space in future.

Facebook meanwhile has agreed to send a delegation for talks with Pakistani officials in this regard, the Interior Ministry informed, days after the government threatened to permanently block major social media websites if they refused to cooperate in removing blasphemous content.