IHC nudges govt over online blasphemy
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the government to ensure full implementation of former judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s order to curb blasphemous content on social media and asked it to hold talks with Facebook to ensure that the site is free from such nuisance.
In an order issued some two years back, Justice Siddiqui, who was sacked last year for issuing a statement against a state institution, had asked the government to force Facebook administration to include blasphemous material in its list of prohibited content.
The IHC had then noted that Facebook generates a large amount of revenue from Pakistan and the state should set up a permanent firewall against anti-religious propaganda fuelling chaos and anarchy.
Deciding a plea filed by Hafiz Ehtesham, the IHC’s Justice Mohsin
Akhtar Kiyani on Monday ordered the government to direct the Ministry of Information Technology to ensure full implementation 2017’s IHC order against use of social media for promoting or sharing blasphemous content.
However, the court rejected the petitioner’s call to cut economic and diplomatic ties with Holland, whose controversial far right lawmaker Geert Wielders had last year announced to hold a caricature competition, which was later called off after protest by Pakistan.
The court also advised the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and IT ministry to use their resources and assure all possible measures to implement the IHC orders.
The court said the government should approach the Facebook administration in this regard and ask it to stop circulation of all content against Allah, the Holy Prophet (PBUH), his respected wives and family members, his companions and the Quran.
“Facebook should classify all such material in its list of prohibited content,” IHC demanded, adding that the government also needs to build a firewall against such content. It also laid stress on establishing an institution to preserve the country’s ideological, geographical and administrative frontiers.
Such institution, the IHC order said, should continuously monitor and combat anarchist elements. The PTA in the light of the 2017 orders should chalk out a comprehensive framework to combat blasphemous content.
It said the government should ensure permanent measures against websites involved in immoral and illegal activities. The government should also use the print and electronic media to spread awareness against use of such websites.
Action needs to be taken against websites and pages promoting blasphemous content. Step should also be taken for promoting awareness against criminal liabilities relating blasphemous and pornographic content, it said.
The IHC had reserved it verdict after completion of arguments on February 26. Former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had penned a detailed verdict against blasphemous content.