Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar on Thursday said Pakistan will represent the global Muslim community on the issue of blasphemous content posted on social media platforms and take the fight to any extent necessary to get its message across.
“Such content has been posted on social media websites for years. I am surprised that no other Muslim country raised the issue till now,” Nisar said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.
“We will take any steps necessary to make sure that our message against such content gets across to those websites as well as the rest of the world,” Nisar said.
“We cannot put a handle on things until Facebook and these other websites help us, but when it comes to uploading done from within Pakistan, we have nearly pinpointed from where it is happening through the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other intelligence agencies.”
“Since this has become an international issue, I have also asked the FIA to find good legal counsel on the matter. They have been instructed to find a lawyer that understands international law and can advise us on these matters,” Nisar added.
“I have asked the Foreign Office to appoint a representative in the US to liaison with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and these social media websites on a daily basis,” he said.
“Facebook and other service providers should share all information about the people behind this blasphemous content with us.”
“We are working on both tracks to ensure that those who have committed these crimes do not get away scot-free while the innocent do not get sucked into the matter,” he added.
“I have already directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to send out notices and ask that this content is removed and that it does not reappear online again,” Nisar said.
“Apart from all these measures, I still warn that we will take the matter to whatever end is necessary if these platforms do not comply with our demands,” Nisar said, in an apparent reference to repeated appeals to block social media in Pakistan.
Nisar seemed to echo Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who said on March 14 that blasphemy is an ‘unpardonable offence’ and directed state machinery to find those responsible for putting blasphemous content on social media and bring them to justice without delay.
“The blasphemous content on social media is a nefarious conspiracy to hurt the religious sentiments of the entire Muslim ummah,” Nawaz was quoted as saying in a statement released on Twitter by the PML-N’s official account.
Earlier the same day, the National Assembly had passed a resolution condemning blasphemous content posted on social media and unanimously agreed to the formation of a committee of parliamentary leaders to monitor such content.