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Restrictions on social media

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said no restriction will be imposed on social media, but at the same time unbridled freedom cannot be allowed. He added that all realised the importance of social media. There were rules for every institution, organisation and government, but, unfortunately no such rules exist for social media. According to report, for the last two weeks, posts against national institutions had surfaced. Some 27 social media accounts were identified for posting offensive material and six persons were interviewed, he said. He said the persons under interrogation were even asked to bring their lawyers along with them during questioning. Their electronic devices will be checked forensically, and if any evidence is found, the accused will be arrested. He added that it was not his personal issue, or that of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, rather it was an issue of society. Cultural and religious values were under attack from a section of social media, adding that the Constitution of Pakistan, institutions and the values were under attack by a section of social media. Nisar observed that crackdown of the Federal Investigation Agency against ‘blasphemous’ posts had resulted in a huge decline in offensive material being posted online. He said, “Standard operating procedures will be made for the use of social media and future generations will be protected against trash of social media. Nisar said he had given clear directions that indiscriminate action be initiated against all those involved, even if someone was from the PML-N. We want social media to grow but it must come under some law or code of conduct, he added. He reiterated that the government was not for blocking social media but it was calling for a regulated exercise of freedom of expression. Hinting at facilitating Internet service providers in Pakistan to stop misuse of social media, he said SOPs might be devised for the purpose too. Efforts were accelerated to track Internet users’ activities online and hunt down undesirable elements, he added.The minister also mentioned about his detailed meeting with all representative bodies of media including APNS, CPNE and PBA. He said the meeting’s agenda revolved around evolving a consensus policy to safeguard national security interests and it was agreed to implement the recommendations of the meeting. He said the participants of the meeting also agreed over a code of conduct regarding the national security. The minister said that representatives of media bodies agreed to work together and no point of difference or even difference of opinion was found. There are millions of social media users in Pakistan, which are operating freely and exchanging messages through this media. Action must be taken against those people who misuse these platforms to spread anarchy, confusion and hatred against personalities and institutions. There is constitution, laws, values and norms of the society, which cannot be allowed to be crushed by some immoral elements. The government should ensure the protection of right to freedom of expression of the citizens. Curbing social media for avoiding just criticism will not put positive impact on the society and the country and it will be against the spirit of democracy.

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