Senate resolution seeking ban on all social media withdrawn amid protest

Published March 4, 2024
A view of the Senate session today. — Photo by author
A view of the Senate session today. — Photo by author

Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi on Monday withdrew his resolution seeking a ban on all social media platforms after protest and near unanimous disapproval of his initiative.

The senator’s resolution to have Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, X, and YouTube banned in Pakistan to protect the young generation from their “negative and devastating effects” was on the agenda of the House today.

The resolution was supposed to be moved by Senator Tangi, who was expelled by the PPP last month for remaining silent in a Senate session the month before when Independent Senator Dilawar Khan had moved a separate resolution seeking postponement of general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Subsequently, PPP cancelled his membership but neither filed a reference against him nor asked him to resign. The Senate secretariat’s record shows Tangi, who is set to retire on March 11, is still a PPP senator.

The resolution pushing for a blanket ban on major social websites came at a time when the country is already facing disruption to the service of X in the face of severe backlash against the judiciary and establishment following the general elections on Feb 8.

At the start of the 335th Senate session today, a protest — of which Tangi was a part — was staged against the raid on Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman and presidential candidate Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s residence.

When Senator Tangi began to speak, another protest was staged over his social media resolution that was on the agenda.

After speaking for approximately a minute, he said he wanted to introduce a law based on his own thoughts and vision.

“It is possible that there is something good in my mind. One of my resolutions is listed on the agenda today. According to my thinking, maybe it’s good. But it can be argued upon.

“I am talking about my resolution. I submitted it after consulting my colleagues and friends,” he contended as he attempted to speak amid the protest.

Here, the Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi stopped Senator Tangi from continuing his speech. At this, Senator Tangi offered to complete his speech within a minute.

“Why do you succumb to the pressure of people?” he asked the deputy chairman. “Please give me a chance to talk.”

Later, when he was given a chance to speak, Senator Tangi again reminded the House that every member has the right to present legislation, motion, or resolution.

“But then with the consensus and advice that if some friends do not agree with it, and if I feel that the majority of the members and general masses also do not agree with it, the senator (himself) has the right to withdraw his resolution and hence I withdraw it,” he stated.

Resolution

The resolution claimed that the aforementioned digital platforms were being used for the promotion of norms “against our religion and culture” and “creating hatred amongst the people on the grounds of language and religion”.

It noted that the use of such platforms to run “negative and malicious propaganda” against the armed forces was against the interests of the country.

“Such platforms were being used by vested interests for spreading fake news about various issues and trying to create and promote fake leadership in the country to hoodwink the young generation,” the resolution said.

Senate passes six bills

The session chaired by the deputy chairman today also passed six bills, according to APP.

These included the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Pakistan Emergency Treatment Coverage Programme Bill 2023, the Pakistan Opportunistic Screening and Treatment of Hypertension Bill 2023, the Islamabad Capital Territory Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Bill, 2023, the International Institute of Technology, Culture and Health Sciences Bill 2024 and the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023.

Besides, several other bills were also introduced in the House which were referred to the concerning standing committees.

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