The Senate has urged the authorities to block blasphemous content from the internet in the country. The Senate’s Standing Committee on National Unity met on Friday with Senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif in the chair.
The committee urged Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the circulation of blasphemous content on social media and take blasphemers to the task.
The convener of the committee Barrister Saif Ali pointed out that various social media platforms promote such posts to demean the prophets of Allah and mock all religions and faiths, which was unbearable.
He said that the government departments, especially PTA and FIA, were responsible for blocking blasphemous content and taking legal action against those responsible for spreading evil in society.
Chairman PTA, Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa told Senate that the circulation of blasphemous content on social platforms was a massive problem and that such material was being promoted via fake accounts on purpose.
“We have established a cell to monitors such websites,” he said, adding that the authority was running a public mess campaign via newspaper and mobile SMS. People can report blasphemous content on the given number and email address.
He vowed to roll out a policy for social media very soon.
“PTA has blocked more than 49,000 URLs containing objectionable content so far,” Bajwa apprised Senate body, adding that some of the websites were blocked on a regional level.
He maintained that tackling all the websites was impossible for the department as some of them were being operated from other countries.
“We request their administration to take down blasphemous content,” he remarked.
The standing committee recommended telecommunication authority to form a special monitoring cell aimed at scrutinizing the blasphemous content on social media.
It also suggested PTA and other relevant authorities to review current laws in place, identify the loopholes, and come up with recommendations for effective legislation so that the authorities have enough power to curb the blasphemy.
Director General FIA, Mr. Basheer Memon, was also present at the briefing. He said that every complaint related to blasphemy is timely and sternly dealt with.
“So far, 19 such cases – 15 in Punjab and 14 in Islamabad – have emerged,” he informed the committee.
He added that few of the involved people were arrested while as many as 12 cases were still in the investigation phase.
Members of the committee agreed that freedom of expression does not allow anyone to contempt religions, faiths, and prophets. Following the teachings of Islam, every Muslim respects other religions and beliefs.