Interior Ministry informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday that Facebook has been removing blasphemous content on Pakistan’s request.
Interior Secretary Arif Khan said in his report that the social networking site had responded to the ministry’s letter, and already removed 85 percent of the blasphemous content.
Mr Khan further revealed that three suspects had been taken into custody as part of the online blasphemy probe. Two of them were directly involved in posting blasphemous material that had also been discovered from their laptops and cell phones by law enforcers. A joint interrogation team is looking further into the matter.
Suspending Facebook in Pakistan, Mr Khan reiterated, is not the solution to the problem, especially since Facebook has been cooperating with the government. Facebook had earlier decided to send a delegation to Pakistan to investigate the content deemed blasphemous.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Ismael Shah said in court that a 25-member team has been searching blasphemous content online, and that action has been taken against 40 such pages.
IHC Chief Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, in his remarks, praised the government for hosting a meeting of 27 ambassadors from Muslim countries in which a strategy was proposed for dealing with blasphemous content on social media. However, he inquired as to why the ambassador of the country where the offence originated, was not invited. The Interior Secretary responded that Pakistan’s embassy in Washington was taking the matter further there.
Juctice Siddiqui also voiced displeasure over the lack of other ministries in pursuing this matter.
“Where are IT expert[s], Ahsan Iqabal, Minister for Religious Affairs? The entire government has left the job to Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan,” Justice Siddiqui was quoted as saying.
He also ordered IT Minister Anusha Rehman to appear before court and explain why the issue had not been resolved yet.
The hearing of the case will resume on March 31.