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Blasphemous content: Ministry says Facebook deleted 85pc content on Pakistan’s request

ISLAMABAD: An interior ministry official told Islamabad High Court (IHC) today that responding to Pakistan’s official request  to the social-networking site, Facebook (FB) has deleted 85% blasphemous/offensive material. 

“As many as three miscreants directly involved in the heinous activity, have been arrested so far,” Arif Khan, Secretary Interior further told a two-member bench hearing the case.

Khan told the court that FB had responded to ministry’s application and showed its willingness to remove content deemed blasphemous.

“The matter was broached before ambassadors of 27 Muslim countries and a joint investigation team has been formed to probe the matter,” Khan said.

The secretary told Chief Justice IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui that closing off Facebook is not a solution to the issue.

Justice Siddiqui hailed the step to call the meeting of ambassadors to brainstorm the question; however, he added, “Why was the ambassador of the country where this activity actually took place, not invited?”

Secretary Interior responded, “Pakistani Embassy located in Washington raised the issue.”

He told that at least 85 percent of blasphemous content on social media has been obliterated and only 10 to 15 percent remains.

Justice Siddiqui said the court will not intervene in the investigations.

“Where are IT expert, Ahsan Iqbal, minister for religious affairs? The entire government has left the job to Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan,” Justice Siddiqui voiced displeasure.

“Will Anusha Rehman tell the court as to why the issue has not been resolved thus far?” he asked.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Syed Ismail Shah told the court that action has been taken up against 40 Facebook pages of sacrilegious content and a special team is looking for all such content.

The court summoned the report during the next hearing with directives that special caution should be exercised that no innocent people are wronged.

Adjourning the hearing till March 31, the CJ also demanded the report on progress in amended Electronic Crimes Act in the next hearing.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.