The interior ministry informed the Islamabad High Court on Monday that Facebook administration has been blocking illegal blasphemous content on Pakistan's request and 85 per cent of such material on the social networking site has already been removed.

Interior Secretary Arif Khan said in his report that Facebook had responded to their letter and showed its willingness to remove content deemed blasphemous.

He said the federal government has taken ambassadors of 27 Muslim countries on board in connection with the issue. Furthermore, three arrests have been made during the course of the online blasphemy probe, out of which two people were directly involved in posting blasphemous content, he stated.

Law enforcers have also found blasphemous content from the suspects' laptops and mobile devices. A joint interrogation team has been constituted to probe into the matter, he added.

When asked why the ambassador of the country from where the offence originated was not summoned, the interior secretary responded: "Our embassy in Washington has also taken up the matter [with the US government]."

He said banning Facebook is "not the solution of the problem".

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Ismael Shah said a team, comprising 25 members, has been working to search blasphemous content online. He said that the authority has so far taken action against 40 such pages.

He said the Facebook administration has realised the issue and "assured to comply with our demand".

"Facebook agreeing to our demands is a big achievement," the PTA chief said.

In his remarks, IHC Chief Justice Shaukat Siddiqui praised the government for hosting a meeting of 27 envoys of Muslims countries.

Justice Siddiqui expressed displeasure over the role of the information ministry and ordered IT Minister Anusha Rehman to come in person and explain why the issue has not been resolved as yet.

The chief justice also sought a report on amendments in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016.

The hearing of the case will resume on March 31 as the court directed all parties to submit their progress reports on the day.

The government had approached Facebook earlier this month regarding access to the records of three controversial pages accused of spreading blasphemous content. Facebook in its reply had said it is aware of the government's reservations and that it wants to resolve the issue via bilateral dialogue and mutual understanding.

Facebook management had also decided to send a delegation to Pakistan for investigating content which the government considers to be blasphemous.

Opinion

Story of the last tamarind leaf
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Story of the last tamarind leaf

These journalists speak for all the troubled features of India’s democracy that Mr Modi didn’t tell the G7 about.
Understanding abuse
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Understanding abuse

Condemnations have been rare while there is no debate on the prevalence of such abuse beyond the Mufti Azizur Rehman case.
The roots of hate
Updated 21 Jun 2021

The roots of hate

The reference to being ‘out-populated’ is a popular theme in modern neo-Nazi and white supremacist thought.

Editorial

Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...
Poll consensus
Updated 21 Jun 2021

Poll consensus

If the govt is reluctant to take part in an APC on poll reforms, then it must ensure that parliament can be used for this purpose.
21 Jun 2021

Global displacement

THE number of globally displaced persons shared by the UN’s refugee agency in a report released on Friday is...
21 Jun 2021

KP budget

THE KP budget 2021-22 is a sort of please-all document that hands out something to almost everyone in the hope of...