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Nisar threatens to block all social media websites with 'blasphemous content'

Published Mar 09, 2017 10:03pm


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Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar on Thursday threatened to block "all social media websites" that host blasphemous content hours after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the government to open an investigation into online blasphemy.

The issue came to the fore in January, when five activists were reported missing. Four of the missing activists were returned to their families weeks later, but not before they were tarnished by a virulent campaign to paint them as 'enemies of Islam'.

On Thursday, the IHC ordered the government to open an investigation into online "blasphemy", threatening to ban social media networks if they failed to censor content deemed insulting to Islam.

"We will go to any extent [including] permanently blocking all such social media websites if they refuse to cooperate," the minister said in a statement.

No country can allow religious sentiments to be hurt or top state functionaries to be subjected to ridicule under what the minister described as "the pretext of freedom of expression."

IHC judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui asked the government to form an investigative committee to report back next Monday over the issue, saying he could order social media sites to be blocked if offending content remained online.

"The judge ordered the government to make a Joint Investigation Team with Muslim officials only to look into the blasphemy issue," said advocate Tariq Asad, the petitioner in the case.

Rights groups say the label of 'blasphemer' is liberally applied by religious conservatives in order to silence criticism of extremism.

Even unproven allegations can be fatal. At least 65 people, including lawyers, judges and activists, have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to a recent think tank report.

Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010, while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that led to global riots.

But Pakistan later came to agreements with major internet firms to block within the country material that violated its laws, generally once the companies had performed their own cross-checks.

Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer who worked to get YouTube unblocked, said previous web censorship had also originated with court orders and the judge could succeed in implementing a fresh set of bans.


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Comments (89) Closed

Irfan M Mar 09, 2017 10:22pm

We are lucky to have a judge who understand that this is the most important matter Pakistan is facing.

zs Mar 09, 2017 10:32pm

Salute to the judge and Ch. Nisar.

Seriously? Mar 09, 2017 10:58pm

Does that mean YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc?

khyber Mar 09, 2017 11:04pm

Blocking web sites is not the answer. People should avoid web content if their feelings are so fragile.

Moby Mar 09, 2017 11:09pm

Hats off to the learned judge, this is the most serious issue facing the country. Lets ban all Internet access - everything else will be fine after that.

sana-1 Mar 09, 2017 11:20pm

Please block them, fed up of this social media propaganda!

Good guy... Mar 09, 2017 11:29pm

I support this ban..

anony Mar 10, 2017 12:16am

Well done Mr Nisar. We are a proud muslim nation and will always remain one.

Mahmood Mar 10, 2017 12:42am

Not such a bad idea. Many Pakistanis may actually start working for a change, instead of spending all their working hours on Facebook.

fahd Mar 10, 2017 01:06am

Love u judge and Chaudry Nisar. Keep going the nation is behind u on this one.

Ravel Mar 10, 2017 01:13am

Prophet Muhammad pbuh had unimaginable patience and tolerance that went people of Taif stoned him, he prayed to God for guidance and didn't took arms or hard way against them. Maybe, we also need to change our policy towards people who have a different and varied opinion and educate, dialogue, argue with them instead of using force. There is a very thin line between allowing freedom of speech and then banning mediums altogether may make people vulnerable to be used by any group for their vested interests and stop thinking process altogether. However, under the umbrella of freedom of speech, nobody has got the right to intentionally offend and hurt the sentiments of religious people.

imran Altaf Mar 10, 2017 01:14am

@Irfan M Really what about security, terrorism, poverty, inflation and corruption along with poor education standards.

Ravel Mar 10, 2017 01:15am

@khyber I absolutely agree with you. Banning is never the solution. In 21st century we need to allow people to talk, converse, and engage in dialogues but then there has to be a limit and decency needs to be there.

Justwasif Mar 10, 2017 01:17am

It would be best thing to do... Social Media is totally mess... Just block it please..

brr Mar 10, 2017 01:18am

They spend more time on trivial things than on things that matter. And they get elected again all the time.

Saif Zulfiqar Mar 10, 2017 01:18am

@Seriously? All media.

Justwasif Mar 10, 2017 01:18am

I support you...

Majida Mar 10, 2017 01:19am

Heavy sigh!

Saif Zulfiqar Mar 10, 2017 01:19am

@khyber, Blocking web sites is one of the many answer.

Poorpakistani Mar 10, 2017 01:26am

@anony Yes, Proud in our own eyes but foolish in eyes of the world.

Ahmad zubair Mar 10, 2017 01:32am

Yes,the people on social media should behave responsibly and show respect.

Sameer Mar 10, 2017 01:42am

Though I am all up for blocking sites promoting hate and blasphemous material; it is a time tested scenario that each time the Government wished to ban freedom of has done so under the garb of protecting religious sentiments. May God have mercy. For He is aware of our true selves.

LegalMind Mar 10, 2017 01:44am

Proud of you Ch.Nisar, only you can come up with a genius solution for such a huge problem, lucky to have left Pakistan before it was too late

Waleed Khokhar Mar 10, 2017 01:45am

@khyber Would you want amateur brains to fall under influence? There is a lot out there on web to mislead. Just start looking around within our community.

Waleed Khokhar Mar 10, 2017 01:48am

I support this ban! People all around the world are cherry picking stuff and making it look credible. This reminds of famous comedian Russel Peters, where he very cleverly portrays media these days. For example, the screen will show asian drivers and in the following photo show an accident and ask the viewers what do you think?

Laeeq, NY Mar 10, 2017 02:01am

Nothing else to do?

GK Mar 10, 2017 02:06am

The statement itself is has caused irreversible damage to the perception of outside world. Country surely going backwards. Well this is in line with the all weather partner, so cool.

Laeeq, NY Mar 10, 2017 02:03am

Along with blasphemy ,the porn media should be blocked also.

Masood Rizvi Mar 10, 2017 02:25am


and let's bury our heads in sand. Country problems will vanish. Ban will not solve anything, period. Go after the root cause.

Rig Mar 10, 2017 02:27am

I use social media daily it helps me alot block the content.If you dont use it we use it.

Adil Mar 10, 2017 02:25am

On this matter will even stand with the enemies who support this ban. No compromise to be made on our integrity, Pakistan should always stand up against such rubbish.

Krishna K Upadhya Mar 10, 2017 02:38am

"No country can allow religious sentiments to be hurt or top state functionaries to be subjected to ridicule under what the minister described as "the pretext of freedom of expression." Why worry about other countries? If you don't like it, ban this.

iztraab Mar 10, 2017 02:46am

this so called social media is being used as weapon to create chaos within society to divide people. i support the Judge and CH. Nisar. let so called liberals and seculars whine.

JA-Australia Mar 10, 2017 03:23am

France and Germany block anti-Semitic content.

Akil Akhtar Mar 10, 2017 03:28am


taha Mar 10, 2017 03:29am

Why just threaten to do it? just do it and then let the courts figure this out.

abidas Pousey Mar 10, 2017 03:39am

Good move.

Javed Ali Mar 10, 2017 03:45am

How about blocking facebook and then blocking internet altogether. And then why stop there, stop providing electricity since it is the mother of all evils.

Amir Khan Mar 10, 2017 04:05am

Blasphemy is a matter of interpretation so first define it before using your might.

Naeem Mar 10, 2017 04:18am

You cannot control the electronic media. Let there be a free discussion, which is needed to open our minds

andy Mar 10, 2017 04:21am

backward step.

Minto Mar 10, 2017 04:30am

Bravo! Extremisim of any kind should be banned

Khwarizmi Mar 10, 2017 04:35am

Anyone familiar with the Pakistani people, culture and history will know that Pakistan is a religious country. Even our chistian and hindu communities seems more religious then what I have seen in other countries. Blasphemous content will not stand!

Amin Mar 10, 2017 04:36am

Blocking the site is not an answer. Everyone knows how to access any website using anonymous proxies and VPN connections. Govt should come up with some sort of agreement with these companies to block blasphemous contents similar to what it did with Youtube.

Farouq omaro Mar 10, 2017 04:40am

Yes, just ban computers and smartphones too.

OZ Guy Mar 10, 2017 04:53am

Our Faith should be strong enough not to be affected by any content. Blocking sites shows how weak and fragile our faith is as a nation.

Junaid Mar 10, 2017 05:01am

Ch. Nisar is only talk and no action. Instead of blocking social media, y don't he simply go after those NGOs who are funding this.

ABA Mar 10, 2017 05:33am

Does this mean ban on youtube, facebook, twitter again?

jay tuli Mar 10, 2017 05:44am

Free speech is more important than anything else. It is wrong to hurt any one's religious feelings and faith of anyone, however, banning a free speech is more wrong.

malick Mar 10, 2017 06:16am

It should be blocked immediately.

AHA Mar 10, 2017 06:20am

Please stop the internet totally.....

Saani Mar 10, 2017 06:32am

Block one site they will go arround it and open ten more. The internet is out of control. Public is helpless. Governments are helpless. The mafia behind this technology has more money then all the 3rd world countries put to gather.

flipflop Mar 10, 2017 06:37am

Blocking websites will not help and in fact only add more fuel to this. Blocking everything is not the solution to everything and instead we must spread awareness rather than threatening people. Our Prophet never hated and threatened the people who made fun of Islam and his follower. Instead he treated them with kindness and respect and invited them to Islam. We fail to see a bigger picture and this has been always the problem with us. Our Islam is only limited to Facebook and twitter posts while in reality we are doing things that are against the teachings of Islam.

ADNAN MAZHER khan Mar 10, 2017 06:48am

Basically PML(N) is skeptic of its bashing on social media.

Kool Mar 10, 2017 07:13am

Many step backward.

Concerned citizen Mar 10, 2017 07:15am

Are our beliefs soo fragile that they cannot tolerate an insignificant rhetoric?- A food for thought

majid Mar 10, 2017 07:22am

@khyber yes logical

majid Mar 10, 2017 07:29am

This is the reason we are not progressing,,,blocking will never serve the purpose we will only cut off from the rest of the world like new ideas, access to the technology, new innovations, I support blocking of the particular content only

alex Mar 10, 2017 07:33am

@imran Altaf You really didn't get him!

Sae Mar 10, 2017 07:38am

And all the problems faced by every day folks will not matter and will simply vanish once the internet sites are blocked. Who Are you kidding?

Raza Mar 10, 2017 07:52am

Can't believe that it is the problem of this problem of this pathetic lot . Fighting the blowing wind

khankijan Mar 10, 2017 08:03am

looks like panama decision is near to announce

Shaukat Ali Khan Mar 10, 2017 08:16am

100% agree with the Interior Minister.

Imtiaz Mar 10, 2017 08:20am

Back to old ways again

Sajed syed Mar 10, 2017 08:21am

@Good guy... and I oppose this ban.

Sajed syed Mar 10, 2017 08:19am

@Poorpakistani , so true. Agree.

Sajed syed Mar 10, 2017 08:24am

@fahd , Please speak for yourself, I am not behind anybody who brings such nonsense in a democratic world and modern times. Freedom of speech, faith, movement is Providence given.

Sajed syed Mar 10, 2017 08:26am

@Ahmad zubair , calling a spade a spade is true respect to others' views. If I do not agree with irrational commands, beliefs and edicts, I have the right to disown them, put them under microscopic scrutiny.

world progresses by questioning of the past, values, traditions and beliefs, not remaining stuck in 'Honor Killings' by state (repressive laws and being a stooge of a particular faith)

CrOc Mar 10, 2017 08:34am

May be ban travel for Pakistani citizens to the West because they promote this

bk Mar 10, 2017 08:36am

Another stupid move. One who has got true faith wont get hurt on seeing such blasphemous content. If somebody feels hurt let them stop using those sites, nobody is forcing them to use it. Why put a ban if others dont have problem with it.

Ali Mar 10, 2017 09:17am

@Poorpakistani yeah but this is most important than any other issue. Don't care if we are foolish in the eyes of the world and their double standards. Hats off to the judge.

Azad khial Mar 10, 2017 09:34am

This ban does not go far enough!! Even if people stop writing and posting offensive material, they may be thinking it. And clearly we cannot allow that!!! The solution is a simple medical procedure called a lobotomy. Voila. Then these evil people will not be able to think offensive thoughts. Problem solved. And we can use our education budget to finance the procedure.

imran Mar 10, 2017 09:35am

final nail in the coffin!!

Abid Mar 10, 2017 09:38am

In an age when controversy sells, these laws may be counter productive

Masood Hussain Mar 10, 2017 09:40am

Why threaten? just do it......

Just saying Mar 10, 2017 10:04am

It would be refreshing if our esteemed minister for interior would jump to action with the same alacrity in response to the Qazi Isa report on the Quetta massacre!

Reader Mar 10, 2017 10:06am

Every society draws its own line on what is acceptable and what is not unacceptable, every society has its own values, technology has simply made this more evident than before, technology in a way shows what the human mindset is all about. It is not the source it is simply the messenger / facilitator. When technology transcends borders the mindset of people with differing values come together or clash, with many millions "on line" there is going to be many agreements and disagreements, so live with it or simply ban it if one cannot live with it. This is the question, to what extent can we live with content that goes against the mindset. Why go on social media anyway? because in a way it is an extenuation of the our minds.

Iqbal bhai Mar 10, 2017 10:06am

@khyber Thank you for the advice. Please also advise such websites to respect our feelings.

mujeeburrahman Mar 10, 2017 10:11am

good nisar this is a stright way of bringing peace in pakistan. We are with you.

Shab Mar 10, 2017 10:42am

@Sae they may not suddenly vanish however I assure u they will certainly decrease. Social media is contributing to all problems of our society, unfortunately :-(

The_Truth Mar 10, 2017 10:44am

I would support this ban. Looks like Nisar is the only man in PMLN who does some work.

GET real Mar 10, 2017 10:45am

Hahaha...Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - All banned !!!

James micheal Mar 10, 2017 10:47am

Peace and tolerance

Azhar Hussain Mar 10, 2017 10:49am

Appreciate Government of Pakistan proactive response in this regard because its the need of time to understand and respond with predefined status of the state in exchange.

Satyameva Jayate Mar 10, 2017 11:12am

The ban is coming. Because the Tech Giants are flooded with Indian Electronics Engineers, Computer Engineers and Software Programmers.

imdadali Mar 10, 2017 11:24am

matter may be taken up with owners of the social media websites in this regard.

our values Mar 10, 2017 03:42pm

Nisar "threatens". This is how unfortunately our nation operates, on fear and intimidation, why cannot we discuss, talk, debate, this is how matters should be resolved. We need to learn on how to communicate, in a civil law abiding manner. This is perhaps our weakness which we have to learn to overcome, this comes thru practice, thru patience, thru tolerance for another persons point of view, these are hard in a society such as ours, as we are used to brute force, but in the long run we have to get use to technology and shared values with other people. This is the challenge.

Salman Qamar Mar 11, 2017 06:32pm

Why threaten? BLOCK IT!

Helloall Mar 12, 2017 04:43am

@anony. "...proud Muslim nation and will always remain one". What do you mean? You think Freedom of speech & all other freedoms that people of civilized societies enjoy are against your idea of a theocratic state? People will stand against the tyranny you wish the state to impose on the citizenry & will fight back against dark bigotry you want to force on others. This 2017 not 1423.