Chaudhry Nisar, the Interior Minister, has threatened to block blasphemous content published on social media websites in Pakistan.
The threat comes after the Islamabad High Court urged religious scholars to deal with the issue of blasphemy.
IHC on Failure of Government Block Blasphemous Content
The Islamabad High Court gave its verdict that the government failed to block blasphemous content. The court argued that government’s failure to stop publishing of blasphemous content results in innconent lives lost.
The Coveted Reference to Mumtaz Qadri
IHC rightly pointed to the fact that if the government could not stop blasphemous content, people like Mumtaz Qadri would keep taking the law into their hands.
The court also talked about the emotional distress caused to followers of our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
“This matter requires immediate attention otherwise patience of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) may run out. It is the greatest form of terrorism and people involved in this heinous act are biggest terrorists.”
“It is shameful that delicate and sensitive matter in hand remained unattended by the executive of the country. It is also painful that the interior secretary did not bother to appear before the court and preferred to attend some office meeting.”
Petitioners Behind the Appeal to Stop Blasphemous Content
Secretary Ministry of Information Rizwan Bashir, PTA Chairman Ismail Shah, SSP Operations Sajid Mehmood Kiani, and several officers of FIA submitted a petition with the Islamabad High Court.
The petition argued to punish the culprits uploading blasphemous content against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), and other revered Islamic personalities.
The people behind the blasphemous content will keep publishing such content with different names because they are not punished for their acts.
Chaudhry Nasir Strongly Responded to the Petition
Chaudhry Nisar said that the government would take all steps necessary to stop blasphemous content from getting published in Pakistan.
“We will go to any extent [including] permanently blocking all such social media websites if they refuse to cooperate,”
The issue of uploading blasphemous content first made the headlines back in January 2017. The five alleged blasphemers went missing. Four of these blasphemers returned to their families back in one week.
These alleged blasphemers’ life became miserable due to a social media campaign launched against them. The campaign named these alleged blasphemers as “enemies of Islam.”
Blasphemous Content in the name of Freedom of Speech
Chaudhry Nisar also condemned the pretext of “Freedom of Speech” used by online blasphemers to hurt the religious sentiments of people in Pakistan.
IHC has ordered the Interior Minister to form a Joint Investigation Team with Muslim officials only to find out the people responsible for uploading blasphemous content in Pakistan.
The Opposing View of Rights Groups
On the other hand, Right Groups claim that religious conservatives use the pretext of Blasphemy to silence the critics behind extremism.
Many times these blasphemy allegations result in innocent lives lost. More than 60 people including judges, lawyers, and activists have lost their lives since the early 90s.
Brief History of Social Media Blocked in Pakistan
It all started with the blocking of YouTube and other websites in Pakistan in 2008.
The Government tried to block several websites in 2010 due to blasphemous content including Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Wikipedia. However, that was considered a not so successful attempt because of the government’s inability to filter the internet adequately.
In September 20102, Government of Pakistan requested YouTube to block a blasphemous video, which the company refused to do so. In response, YouTube got banned in the entire country. The website of YouTube remained blocked in the country until 2016. After which, YouTube allowed Government of Pakistan to block specific URLs.