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Meeting of Muslim envoys called to discuss blasphemy on social media: Nisar

Updated March 22, 2017

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday said he has called a meeting of ambassadors from Muslim countries to discuss and tackle the issue of blasphemous content posted on social media.

"I have called a meeting on Friday and have invited ambassadors of Muslim countries so we can tackle this very important issue of blasphemy as a united ummah," Nisar said.

The interior minister added that if the issue was tackled in a united manner by all Muslim countries, it would carry more weight.

"The companies providing social media services will also get a clear message if we take a united stand on the issue," he said.

Explaining the purpose of the proposed meeting, the interior minister said he will share information with the envoys which was shared with the ministry by the apex court and ask the envoys to inform their respective countries of the agenda put forth.

"Pakistan's point of view is that we chart a united course of action for respect towards revered religious personalities," said Nisar, adding that the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) will also be used for the same purpose.

'Will not be reluctant to take any measures'

The interior minister, reiterating the importance and seriousness of the issue, said Pakistan will not hestitate to take extreme measures to resolve the blasphemy issue.

"We will not be reluctant to take any measures for resolving this issue and will proactively pursue it. It is our request that everyone cooperates with us as this is a very sensitive and important issue," said Nisar.

"Nothing can be greater than our religion to us," he said.

"If social media platforms do not cooperate with us despite all our efforts, then we will take the strictest of measures against such platforms in the country," the interior minister added.

However, Nisar said he was hopeful that Pakistan's efforts to coordinate and resolve the issue with the help of social media platforms would yield positive results.

Referring to arguments for the freedom of expression, the interior minister said freedom of expression does not entail disrespecting revered religious personalities.

"If an individual even doubts the Holocaust, the Western world takes extreme measures. Then why is it that when it is a question of Islam, a religion followed by more than a billion people, no action is taken?"

Spot-fixing

The interior minister, referring to the spot-fixing scandal which rocked the recently-concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL), said reports of friction between the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are not true.

"The need is for the FIA and PCB to work jointly on the matter and I have issued instructions for the same to both the institutions.

"The FIA investigation has not yet revealed how massive the spot-fixing scandal is or how many individuals are involved," clarified Nisar, adding that only initial statements from some players have been recorded till now.

Nisar said that the "noose will be tightened around those individuals who were given respect by the country as a whole but proved to be a source of embarrassment for the nation".

During the press conference, the interior minister also claimed that the base for such activities is outside the country and the network involved is vast, hence pressure will be maintained and the investigation will continue.

"Wherever needed, we will also ask for international assistance in this case," he assured.