Six critics of army on social media freed
ISLAMABAD: The FIA on Sunday released the six persons who were summoned for interrogation as part of a crackdown against those allegedly involved in a campaign against the Pakistan Army on social media. However, they could be summoned again, if required.
Sources told Geo News that notices were issued to a total of 21 persons out of which six appeared for probe; however, they were released after interrogation. Although, the persons posting critical tweets and posts on Facebook have been released, fear has gripped those who are active on social media websites.
The action over the issue of alleged tweets and Facebook posts against the security agencies was launched on Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s directives, which was described by some circles as an attempt to please the army. But the sources close to the interior minister say that he wanted to strengthen the civil-military relations.
The action was taken by the FIA’s Counterterrorism Wing, instead of the Cybercrimes Wing, which is led by Director Dr Mazhar-ul-Haq Kakakhel. For this purpose, 40 persons had been identified after registering Inquiry No.11/23.
Later, notices signed by Deputy Director Nauman Ashraf Bodla were issued to 21 most active social media users. Those summoned included Owais Khan, a member of the PTI social media team, and the ruling party’s Dr Faisal Ranjha. Kakakhel is overseeing the entire action.
According to the sources, initial inquiry against the six persons has been completed as they were grilled about the objectionable posts on Twitter and Facebook about the army. None of those retweeting the objectionable tweets have been summoned by the FIA.
The sources say notice has also been issued to a journalist Talha Siddiqui, who is intending to challenge the issue in the court. Different people express their views on social media freely and the social rights activists are also critical of the campaign against them. Prominent among them is Zahid Abdullah, who is known worldwide for his work in creating awareness about the law on right to information.
Abdullah says freedom of expression is the basic right of every citizen. There is a need that the government defines the principles regarding freedom of expression. No agency should enjoy the freedom to interpret the restrictions imposed on freedom of expression in Article 19.
It is important to note that the FIA has already arrested three persons for campaigning against the judiciary and the other four over blasphemy. It also acquired the services of a private forensic expert for analysing the material.
The sources say the FIA received over 20,000 complaints from 2011 to April 2017, while 11,053 of these were submitted during the last 14 months on the basis of which 879 cases had been registered. On the other hand, 114 people have so far been arrested after registration of 114 cases under the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act during the current year.