October 15, 2018

‘Would even summon PM for removal of blasphemous content on internet’

News Source: Pakistan Today

ISLAMABAD: In a strongly worded statement, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said Friday that in order to ensure the removal of ‘blasphemous content’ on social media, he would even summon the prime minister if he had to.

The court had earlier ordered a crackdown on those circulating blasphemous content on social media.

The IHC judge, during a follow-up hearing to the court’s earlier verdict, inquired as to whether or not the government had made efforts to bring back the Pakistanis who were posting blasphemous content while living abroad.

Representing the government in the court, the interior secretary informed the judge that the ministry of religious affairs had formed a committee for this purpose.

He also mentioned that a summary prepared in connection with dealing with blasphemous content would be sent to the prime minister soon.

Observing that the government had not complied with the court’s verdict, the judge said the government could have sought the assistance of intelligence agencies to tackle the issue, but it seemed to be succumbing to international pressure.

He warned that besides summoning the prime minister in connection with the case if needed, he would also issue contempt of court notices to interior ministry officials.

Ordering the interior secretary to submit a detailed progress report, the judge adjourned the proceedings till December 11.

Earlier in August, Justice Siddiqui, in his 116-page verdict, citing references from the Holy Quran and Hadith, ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to devise a strategy to curb blasphemous material on social networking websites.

It was noted in the judgement that certain Facebook pages were campaigning against Islam, adding that individuals must not take the law into their own hands.

The judge noted that punishing somebody involved in blasphemy was the jurisdiction of the departments concerned and the rule of law must prevail.

Justice Siddiqui, in March, ordered placing the name of alleged blasphemers on the Exit Control List (ECL) so that those involved in the “stinking and criminal activities may not escape from lawful proceedings.”

He also directed authorities to initiate criminal cases against those committing blasphemy and to form a joint investigation team to look into the matter.

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