In a press conference Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar remained unapologetic regarding a sweeping crackdown against social media users which is being criticised by the opposition as an undemocratic and coercive move to keep critics in check.

Instead, the minister said he was stepping up efforts to track internet users' activities online and hunt down undesirable elements.

"For the last two weeks, posts making a mockery of Pakistan Army have surfaced," he said in his briefing. "I believe that no Pakistani can have made these remarks against the Army," he said.

"After the [ISPR] tweet and subsequent clarification, [the reaction] I saw on social media was a matter of concern for me," he said. "Such posts are not tolerable."

"Twenty-seven IDs have been identified, of which six were interviewed and the rest are in queue. There has been no arrest and no 'harassment'," he claimed.

"The people under interrogation are allowed to bring their lawyers along with them during questioning," the interior minister said.

"Their devices will be checked forensically, and if they have not been wiped [to destroy incriminating evidence], the accused will be arrested," he promised.

"It is being made to seem [in the midst of this crackdown] that social media is under attack," he stated during the briefing.

"This is not the case: in fact, the Constitution, Pakistan, our institutions and the values of our country are under attack by a section of social media," he claimed.

The interior minister seemed particularly perturbed by the lack of standard operating procedures and rules on social media.

"A free-for-all system cannot be allowed. [Social media] has wide outreach, and it shapes public opinion," he said.

In a move bound to raise serious privacy concerns, the interior minister also said he wants to clamp down on online anonymity, saying that authorities had proposed that each person's social media accounts be connected with their cell phone numbers by law.

Claiming that the Federal Investigation Agency's crackdown on 'blasphemous' posts had resulted in a dramatic drop in offensive material being posted online, Nisar vowed to expand the fight to cover derogatory remarks against the state as well.

"We will move ahead despite the criticism. Those who want to create hindrances in the path of these reforms, keep at it. Do not threaten me. We will ensure the implementation of these changes in line with the law and Constitution," he said.


Royal taxidermy
16 Sep 2021

Royal taxidermy

The king’s death was hastened so it could be announced in the morning papers.
A great leap backward
Updated 15 Sep 2021

A great leap backward

Courses appear to reinforce a closed mindset and have nothing to do with the requirements of a modern education system.


Aid for Afghans
16 Sep 2021

Aid for Afghans

Humanitarian aid can resume even if the world decides to hold back on formal recognition of the regime for now.
16 Sep 2021

Wheat price

THE government’s decision to raise the wheat release price, or the rate at which provinces issue their grain ...
16 Sep 2021

Keeping the press out

ON Monday, the government yet again displayed its rising contempt for the freedom of press — this time in...
15 Sep 2021

Election trends

THE cantonment board elections are over and their results offer an opportunity for introspection to all major...
15 Sep 2021

Grace marks

THE decision to promote all students awaiting the results of their board exams by awarding grace marks is likely to...