ISLAMABAD, Sept 2: The government on Saturday set up a committee to streamline mechanism for screening and blocking websites offering objectionable contents. “This is the first-ever focused attempt by the government to block offensive websites, warranted because of growing concern among people about indecent content,” a senior government official said.

Constituted by the Ministry of Information Technology, its Secretary Farrukh Qayyum would preside over the body to examine contents of websites reported or found to be offensive or containing anti-state material.

Representatives of ministries of interior, cabinet, information and broadcasting and security agencies would be part of the body that would operate within the parametres set out in the Amended Telecom Act 2006.

It would evaluate and examine web material besides entertaining public requests for blocking websites and decide cases on merit and advise the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to take appropriate action.

The decision to constitute the committee to oversee obnoxious websites had been taken following a growing number of public grievances regarding objectionable and hateful material being displayed at various websites.

A Deregulation Facilitation Unit had also been established to act as focal point for receiving public complaints and forwarding them to the committee for perusal and decision. The in-charge of the unit could be reached at telephone No 051-9212346.

The need for blocking offensive and objectionable websites was needed when blasphemous caricature of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) were published by European newspapers in March and later the sacrilegious depictions were made available on various websites.

In April last, on identical petitions of Dr Mohammad Imran Uppal and Maulvi Iqbal Haider seeking complete blockage of blasphemous cartoons and their depictions on websites, the Supreme Court had ordered to block 12 websites carrying sacrilegious caricatures of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) on the Internet.

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