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Interior Ministry informed Islamabad High Court that Facebook administration has removed 85 percent of the blasphemous content from its website, 40 different sites, on Pakistan’s request.

In his report, Arif Khan, Interior Secretary said, Facebook has responded positively to Pakistan’s request and is removing blasphemous content from its website. Only 15 per cent of such content remains. Further, he said that banning Facebook is not the preferred solution.

Why are the authorities in Pakistan not singularly focusing on the criminal characters spreading objectionable content on the internet?

The interior secretary reported that the federal government has taken on board 27 Muslim countries for this issue. When asked why the US ambassador was not summoned, the secretary said, “Our embassy in Washington has taken up the matter”.

Read more: What’s the hidden reason for banning Facebook in Pakistan?

He further informed the court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested three suspects for their alleged involvement in publishing blasphemous content on social media. Whereas, previously, DG FIA explained to the IHC that the agency has put names of a few suspected people in the ECL (Exit Control List) with more or less three people being observed, constantly.

DG FIA had said in front of the court that a person was arrested based on the suspicions of sharing and spreading blasphemous content through social media. The officials of FIA said, a cell phone and a laptop being used to spread and share blasphemous content on Facebook were also confiscated and now rest with their forensics team.

Facebook Ban Still Being Questioned; Why?

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court (IHC), had surprised countless Pakistanis, by declaring last week, that the court will take a decision on whether social media websites in Pakistan, which allegedly provide a platform to blasphemous content, should be banned or not in the next hearing which is to be held on March 27 (today).

Read more: Facebook Ban is no solution: You can’t destroy a country because it has few criminals

The court had also asked Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to submit its latest findings on this issue in the form of a report for Monday (today). However, displeased by the role of information ministry, the Justice asked Anusha Rehman, Information Minister, to explain these issues in person.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested three suspects for their alleged involvement in publishing blasphemous content on social media.

The hearing of the court will continue on March 31 with directions given to the parties to submit their progress reports on that day.

This, again, brings an all-important question to light: Why are the authorities in Pakistan not singularly focusing on the criminal characters spreading objectionable content on the internet? Why are the government officials, clerics, and judges making statements against Facebook and social media?

Read more: Pakistani Govt’s War against “Social Media”?

Is the government of Pakistan saying that in a country fighting against terrorism for past 15 years, it still cannot identify who was using social media, setting up facebook pages and from where? In a country where the government-run intelligence agencies monitor, track, listen to and record all phone conversations, text messages, emails, Facebook and twitter, and perhaps even WhatsApp, Signal and Skype; is the identification of a few culprits, through their IP addresses, impossible?

These observations lead many to believe that the whole case against social media is being made to silence the critics of government – unfortunately in the name of religion.

The Facebook administration has removed 85 percent of the blasphemous content from its website, on behalf of Pakistan’s request.

The countries whose ambassadors and other diplomats attended the meeting included Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Qatar, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Jordon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. This meeting was praised by IHC Chief Justice.

With maximum of the blasphemous content now removed, it is expected that the question to ban Facebook – and other social media websites – will now be put to rest. Court’s next hearing will take place on March 31.

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