ISLAMABAD: The Sen­ate unanimously adopted on Friday a resolution condemning the blasphemous content circulating on social media and seeking exemplary punishment for those behind it.

The resolution asked the government to act under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code against those uploading the objectionable material on social media. The government was also asked to put in place a regular mechanism to check circulation of such material on social networking sites in the country.

The resolution, moved by Kamil Ali Agha of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, was endorsed by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq and Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan.

Pointing out that Pakistan was the only country in the world to have been carved out in the name of Islam, the resolution said the Constitution of the country guaranteed respect for all prophets, all sacred personalities of Islam, the last Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), his family members as well as his companions.

The house lamented that some perverts were violating the law and committing blasphemy to create chaos in the country. It was stressed that Islam gave the right to freedom of expression but that was not an unbridled right.

Earlier, various senators, while speaking on the issue, called for some restrictions on social media in the country.

While seeking the chair’s permission to move the resolution, Mr Agha regretted that some blasphemous posts had been circulating on social media for some weeks.

The lawmakers said there would be chaos in the country if strict action was not taken against the culprits. It was pointed out that the government had the technology to identify the sources behind the malicious campaign.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani surprised the house by revealing that his fake twitter account was still operational and letters written by him to the FIA director general and the PTA chairman did not work. “I was told that only Twitter administration can do it,” he said.

The lawmakers asked the government to follow the UAE model to block the blasphemous content. It was pointed out that intelligence agencies had the capacity to track down the sources. Some senators were of the opinion that while there should be a check on blasphemous material, the sources of knowledge and information should not be blocked.

Service structure

The Senate unanimously passed the Senate Secretariat Services Bill to regulate appointments and service structure of the employees of the house.

The chairman said that with this legislation, the Senate had become the first house among parliament and four provincial assemblies to have a law for its employees’ service structure.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says: “Article 87 provides that Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament) may by law regulate the recruitment and the conditions of the services of persons appointed to the secretariat staff of either House. Till date the affairs of the Senate of Pakistan are being run under the Senate Secretariat (Recruitment) Rules, 1973, which were formed with the approval of the President under the Article 87. Therefore, the Senate has assumed its constitutional obligation and this bill has been drafted after extensive deliberations.”

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2017