ISLAMABAD: More than 20 days after an earlier move of this kind had to be thwarted by the government, the interior ministry has again ordered an inquiry over the criticism involving Saudi Arabia on social media.

On the directives of the interior ministry, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has assigned the inquiry against some individuals and four entities to its cybercrime wing, but the challenge for the agency will be to frame charges against the suspects.

“Technically there is an issue. Criticism on social media or anywhere else within the norms of the society is not a crime as long as Section 144 of CrPC is not imposed and charging individuals or groups in this regard is not easy,” said an official of the interior ministry.

Earlier such inquiry was thwarted by govt in February

To save its own skin, the inquiry letter issued by the FIA clearly states, ‘With reference to Ministry of Interior letter no.10/11/2019-FIA dated 11-03-2019 on the subject Social Media Campaign Against the Visit of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Pakistan...”.

The visit of the Saudi crown prince took place on Feb 17 and 18 and the inquiry was ordered by the FIA on March 13, two days after the agency received the directive from the interior ministry.

“A targeted social media campaign was planned/executed against the visit, during which few social media activists and groups remained particularly consistent/active till the very last day of the visit,” a letter signed by Additional Director of the FIA’s Cybercrime Wing Chaudhry Abdul Rauf said.

The letter mentioned the names of Matiullah Jan, Mur­taza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood, Umer Cheema and Ahmed Waqas Goraya (Netherlands) as the persons involved in criticism of the Saudi crown prince’s visit.

The letter said these “activists displayed the picture of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on their social media profile DPs which conveyed a very disrespectful message to the visiting guest”.

According to the letter, the groups involved in criticism of the crown prince’s visit are the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Imamia Students Organisation (ISO), Hizbul Tahrir Pakistan and Tameer-i-Watan Party. The letter said, “These groups/party’s members were found most active on social media against Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan”.

The letter called on all additional directors of the cybercrime wing to submit a report on their inquiries to Deputy Director Ayaz Khan on a daily basis.

The issue came to the fore after veteran journalist Murtaza Solangi registered protest against the inquiry on his Twitter account, saying, “So the shameful government of Imran Khan has a problem with putting the picture of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi on your Twitter profile and considers it against the law?”

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2019

Opinion

What a tangled web

What a tangled web

So poorly kept is this secret about the opposition’s real hopes and no plans that even the government has figured it out.
Climate threat over South Asia
Updated 26 Oct 2021

Climate threat over South Asia

Water shortages, drought, floods or landslides and tsunamis are not constrained by national boundaries.
Losing heritage
26 Oct 2021

Losing heritage

It’s not a good idea to turn Mohatta into a college.
The long impasse
Updated 25 Oct 2021

The long impasse

Management of Pakistan-India tensions is likely to remain the main focus of sporadic backchannel efforts.

Editorial

Perfect in every way
Updated 26 Oct 2021

Perfect in every way

GLORIOUS. Gratifying. Liberating. Pakistan’s thumping victory over India in their opening fixture of the T20 World...
26 Oct 2021

Balochistan CM’s exit

ON Sunday, Jam Kamal Khan Alyani’s name was added to the long list of chief ministers of Balochistan who ...
Minister’s odd logic
26 Oct 2021

Minister’s odd logic

THE government’s contradictions and confusion appear to have no end when it comes to dealing with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan.
25 Oct 2021

Party to a vile campaign

THE PTI government’s hostility towards the media and its intolerance for dissent is well known. The target of ...
Financial crisis
Updated 25 Oct 2021

Financial crisis

DESPITE having progressed to ‘very good step’ and being ‘close to concluding the agreement’ a few days back,...
25 Oct 2021

Morals and Pemra

TIME and again, Pemra has come under fire for issuing arbitrary instructions to TV channels on matters ranging from...