A judicial magistrate in Lahore on Wednesday remanded a man into the physical custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for two days for allegedly running a smear campaign against the army and its chief after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted through a no-confidence motion.

The FIA informed the court that the man initiated a campaign against the army chief through his Twitter account.

It urged the magistrate to approve a 14-day physical remand of the suspect but the court granted approval for a two-day remand.

The suspect was arrested by the FIA from Lahore on Tuesday.

Later in the day, the FIA had apprehended at least eight people from across Punjab after it launched a crackdown on social media activists that it believed had been involved in a campaign against the army.

Action against the arrested men is being taken under sections of the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

The FIA counterterrorism wing sprang into action after a vilification drive against the army chief was launched on social networking websites following Imran's ouster on April 10 in the wake of a no-confidence move by the joint opposition in the National Assembly.

Since last Sunday, the top trending hashtags on Twitter were those targeting the army, the judiciary and the new government, and on Tuesday the tweets using those hashtags soared to 4.3 million.

“We have arrested some eight suspects in connection with a social media campaign against the army and the judiciary from different parts of Punjab, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Gujrat. More arrests are expected in the coming days,” an FIA official had told Dawn.

Yesterday, a meeting of Pakistan Army officials had also taken notice of the recent criticism directed at the institution on social media.

"The forum took note of the recent propaganda campaign by some quarters to malign [the] Pakistan Army and create division between the institution and society," a statement by the military's media wing said.

It had added that the meeting expressed "complete confidence in the leadership’s well-considered stance to uphold the Constitution and rule of law at all costs".

The forum also emphasised that the national security of Pakistan was sacrosanct. "Pakistan Army has always stood by the state institutions to guard it and always will, without any compromise."

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