ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Friday directed the authorities concerned to take steps to ban websites containing questionable material to control menace of growing exposure of children to online pornography.

The committee, which met with Senator Mohsin Aziz in the chair, took up the matter along with other items on the agenda.

The committee was informed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had been taking steps to control this menace.

Officials apprised the committee that a specialised unit named ‘Unit to Counter Online Child Abuse’ had been set up, adding that a total of 184 FIRs had been registered on child pornography in the last two years and 225 offenders arrested. Currently, the conviction rate in child pornography cases stands at 27pc.

Takes up bills on tree cutting, street vendors

Senator Mohsin Aziz said there was a dire need to enhance the conviction rate in child abuse cases, with a special focus on raising awareness against this menace.

The committee also discussed some bills and deferred them for further discussion till the next meeting.

The senators deliberated on the bill titled ‘The Cutting of Trees (Prohibition) (Amendment) Bill, 2023’.

The bill’s mover, Senator Palwasha Mohammad Zai Khan, stated that the aim of the bill was to protect the environment of the city, emphasising that the bill would serve as an epitome for the provinces.

She said centuries-old trees had been cut down to meet the housing needs of the city, and such practices should be stopped once and for all. Officials informed the committee that certain provisions in the CDA exclusively dealt with the protection of trees, and the CDA was also empowered to impose fines on wrongdoers.

The committee deferred the deliberations on the bill until the next meeting.

Furthermore, the committee also took up another bill titled ‘The Rehriban (Street Vendors) Livelihood Protection Bill, 2023’.

Senator Sania Nishtar, the bill’s mover, explained that there were approximately one million street vendors in the country who generated Rs900 billion in annual sales.

She said unfortunately there was no legal framework in place to regulate these vendors, adding that the purpose of the bill was to protect street vendors from vandalism of municipal staff and shopkeepers and to provide a secure livelihood to street vendors.

The officials said the bill was in conflict with the Local Government Act, and certain bylaws were already in place for the regulation of street vendors. The committee deferred the deliberations on the bill until the next meeting.

Moreover, the Senate body deliberated on the bill titled ‘The National Database and Registration Authority Bill 2023’, moved by Senator Fawzia Arshad.

Nadra officials apprised the committee that the Nadra ordinance made it mandatory for every citizen to register themselves with the authority and refusal to do so was an offence. The committee deferred the deliberations on the bill until the next meeting.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2024

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