Anti-Army Social Media Campaign: Here’s What Has Happened So Far!

For the past week or so, several people have been arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and hundreds are being investigated for maligning the name of Pakistan Army over social media.

The development has resulted in a lot of controversy as some members of various political parties were also taken into custody over their posts online.

Background

Following the Dawn Leaks issue, Pakistan army has been facing the ire of some social media users who weren’t happy about how things played out.

After the government issued a notification regarding the resolution of the Dawn Leaks case between the military and civilian authorities, DG ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, issued and after some time, withdrew a controversial tweet which rejected the government’s notification.

Political parties and analysts criticized the army over its leniency. Jokes and posts ridiculing the armed forces started getting shared after the ISPR’s official’s press conference that stated that the matter had been settled.

Interior Ministry’s Orders

Some overzealous social media users who were displeased with the conclusion of the Dawn Leaks case, took it as the army’s weakness as the institution did not take a firm stand on the matter.

Jokes, factually incorrect videos and other such content began to trend on social media that was against the Pakistan Army. On 14th May, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, asked the FIA’s cyber crime wing to take action against those who had begun an anti-army campaign on social media platforms.

According to him, criminal acts of disrespecting the security forces and other institutions without any warrantable cause are illegal and cannot be tolerated under constitutional guidelines. Irrespective of what political party they belonged to.

TV Channels were ordered not to air any anti-Pakistan army content during broadcasts as well, given the post-Dawn Leaks coverage on the media.

Social Media Crackdown

FIA initiated the probe by collecting details of bloggers posting anti-army content on social media. A total of 12 websites were traced as original sources that served propaganda against the armed forces. During the same time, it was said that people belonging to some political parties have also been feeding the anti-army agenda.

The anti-army campaign immediately became political when the authorities started accusing hundreds of political activists from opposition parties without proper evidence or investigation.

Political victimization became apparent when a PTI social media activist, Salar Kakar from Balochistan, was called to present himself to the FIA along with his personal laptop and mobile. Meanwhile several other PTI social media activists were also arrested. Naeem-ul-Haq, spokesperson PTI, disassociated the party from Salar’s remarks.

Response

This annoyed the PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, who threatened the government to stop abusing the Cyber Crime law for political gains and termed it “unacceptable in a democracy”. He warned that if the government does not stop political victimization of innocent political activists, the party would take to the streets and protest.

Salar Kakar, along with several other PTI members, were released the very next day. The action was taken by the Counter-Terrorism Wing of the FIA instead of its Cyber Crime Wing. According to an FIA official, 22 people, mostly from PTI and PMLN, were taken into custody by the FIA.

The FIA has prepared a list of over 200 people who will be questioned or detained for anti-army posts or tweets. These include some journalists and social media activists from both PMLN and PTI. Sources say that 40 people have already been arrested and their laptops, mobiles and tablets have been forwarded for forensic evaluation.

Taha Siddiqui, a local journalist, has filed a petition against the FIA in the Islamabad High Court. He claims he was harassed by the Counter-Terrorism Department and was called by an FIA official to appear at their headquarters for an “interrogation concerning issues and opinions Taha had written involving his professional work.”

A member of PMLN, Dr Faisal Ranjha, was also arrested for anti-army posts. He was later disowned by his party.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is also planning to protest in front of Karachi Press Club as Imran Khan claims that the government is “shutting down democracy.”

Conclusion

Considering the way things are progressing, there is still a lot more to come. Several PTI and PML-N members have been detained and then released based on their alleged social media activities. Be it for the maintenance of public order or another round of political victimization from the powers that be, we have not seen the end of it.

The issue has kicked off an important debate about the cyber crime law. The Cybercrime law was meant to strengthen freedom of expression, allow for more online security and guarantee digital rights. Many harassers and blackmailers online were arrested due to the cybercrime law.

That of course, does not mean that the law doesnt have its issues. Misuse of such a law could have long-term repercussions. It would be best for everyone if the perpetrators of the anti-army campaign are apprehended, backed by the evidence against them.

He is the Editor-in-Chief at ProPakistani. Reach out at aadil.s[at]propakistani.pk


    • Indians also say this to Kashmiri and this is stupid statement. Being against and having opinion or criticizing are different things. Why you mix everything?

    • it is a well known that army officials on high ranks are corrupt and have made deals with government

        • This statement “So What”, pretty much explain whatever is wrong with people who blame Government or High Ranking Army officials for corruption and wrong doings. Whatever they do, our paki awaam will always shrug their shoulders saying “so what”, as if it’s not a big deal, like, they are allowed to do so.

          • didn’t get you, but, “Dooddh ki dhuli” Pakistani awam has no right to spread false info about “corrupt” Gov and Army personnel.
            We are talking about hate speech not criticism here

  • Sorry, cannot comment. Pakistan is back in Marhal Law era of denial of freedom of speech.

  • First of all who is Pak army to make deals with NS in case of national security matters? Pak Army should remember they are being paid by public to serve the nation not to make deals with who sabotage national security matters. Imran Khan said right words that its not matter of NS and Army but national security. And secondly Pak Army should take the heat of public opinions and stop being childish and bigot.

      • Pakistan Army consists of the best of Army Professionals in the world and whatever they decide would be in the best of Pakistan’s interest. Its not a mater of fearing with N Govt, We have bigger and much bigger problems and threats around us and few idiots as well playing on foreign agenda of making everything controversial, Spoil army’s name and Keep Pakistan in news. That’s why I call Social media also the biggest Fitna of age.

          • Well that s not the Army’s job to do to stop corruption. Its you ppl selects the corrupted and incompatible politician and make them leaders and these leaders then becomes the inventors of controversies like Dawn leaks which eventually Army have to over look for the better interest of Country and they have been doing that since democracy started Coz they know bigger things are happening around.

        • Its not army who should decide whats best in Pakistan’s interest. Pakistan has public institutions to do it. Public > Army

  • Legit, It appears to me Army in unable to touch maryam nawaz and gang. They just accepted the defeat and now NS along with FIA is trying to give Pak Army a little lollipop by cracking down on criticizers. I’m not sure but jailing journalists or social media users is what NS has learned from Turkey. He is very inspired from them.

    • A lot depends on leadership — and current army leadership was handpicked by NS to serve their family, which is being done dutifully.

      Fake Patriot, stop using my ID and name!

  • Can the people of Pakistan even not express our opinion or record our protest on alleged “settlement” between Army and Govt. on National Security Breach?
    The word ” Settlement” was used in press release of ISPR.
    How Army can “settle” a National Security Breach??

    • If the issue is between two entities, they both can settle it down without even asking you… Okay???? Btw, who you are to comment? Agar do log jagar rahy hon to wo kuch settle kr Lyn apny ap… You who you are???

        • Sorry but you too are accountable before both of the institutions. Army is integral part of our system. If you will do anti campaign without any reasons, you are enemy of the nation.

        • Why don’t you campaign against Imran khan when he goes to India to collect funds for his politics??

    • Ro Imran Ro!

      Go Imran Go, Go to London!; stay with Jemima Khan as usual and also take care of your love child Tyrian (Jade White) Khan; Go Imran Go, Go to London!

  • Although he is corrupt himself but he is right somewhat. I studied in PU. where we had one of war veteran teaching us. He told us that in 65 war we had no vision of enemy but we were ordered to fire without stopping in the dark so did we. We wasted at nothing. Also he is right that why bungalows and acres of lands are given to these retiring generals.

    Army aside such favors are being given in every govt institution which isn’t right at all. So overall this country is already fvcked up. A good read you might like: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/opinion/pakistan-doesnt-owe-you-a-free-mansion.html?_r=0

    • I do not know who is stealing my ID and name to post here under Patriot name that I had been using for several years. . . but this new fake Patriot and I have serious differences of opinion.

    • If your an idiot you can leave Pakistan as well.

      But neither you, me or the army can decide who is Pakistani or not so maybe go do something usefull!

      • Ok right, so if i leave Pakistan we have geniuses like you to lead the country who can’t even decide who is a Pakistani.
        But too bad as i am not the idiot here. Everyone living in Pakistan with legal id card is a Pakistani. Period.

        and yes Alhamdulillah i am doing just fine, but you need a good English lesson to be useful* again. Thank you.

    • Har maslay ka hal pyaar r mohabat ha. Ap ke ghan garaj say apna he ghar tabah ho ga r apny he dhushman ban jayain gay. Proud ka lafaz zindagi say nikall do fir maslay b khtam ho jayain gay.

  • One guy got arrested by FIA and he saw his tweets and he was protesting that why Government has pardoned Former TTP Murderer and spokerperson Ehsaan Ullah Eshaan and other terrorists. Pakistani ISI noted his account, forwarded it to FIA and then the person got arrested.

    So if by protesting that why Pakistan Army is protecting Killers of thousands of Pakistanis then arrest millions of Pakistanis. General Bajwa did a plunder by shaking hands with TTP and it is a shame. It is not Anti-Army but our protest that why Pak Army now openly is in friendship with TTP. This is unacceptable to most of the Pakistanis including me.


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