ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Monday sought a reply from the secretaries of the ministries of interior, information technology, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on a petition seeking a crackdown on alleged blasphemous websites.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui directed the respondents to file the reply by March 7.

He also ordered the PTA to block any blasphemous material found online and submit a reply within a week.

In his petition filed through Tariq Asad Advocate, Salman Shahid said blasphemy was being committed through certain pages on the social media.

The petitioner said last year he approached the FIA to lodge an FIR against those running the alleged blasphemous websites. He was assured that the bloggers would be booked under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code after seeking a legal opinion from the legal branch.

Later, the counsel said, the FIA deputy director asked an investigation officer to conduct an inquiry against one of the bloggers. Till the conclusion of the inquiry, the blogger was asked not to leave the country.

Meanwhile, Judicial Magistrate Abdul Ghafoor Kakar allowed the investigation and registration of an FIR against the bloggers. However, in the first week of January all the five bloggers went missing.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the respondents to block all such pages on the social media and initiate legal proceedings against the administrators of the alleged blasphemous websites.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2017