PTA Does Not Have the Capacity to Block Blasphemous Content

ISLAMABAD 27th July: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) lacks the technical capacity to block blasphemous content on social media and the government should formulate a policy to deal with the issue, its chairman told a Senate panel on Friday.

“Blasphemous content on social networking websites is a major problem and fake accounts are used to spread such material as part of an agenda,” Maj Gen (retd) Amir Azeem Bajwa informed the participants of a meeting of the Senate Special Committee on National Cohesion presided over by Senator Barrister Muhammad Ali Khan Saif.

“Most of these websites are based in other countries. We take up the matter with their managements whenever such cases come to our attention,” he added.

The PTA chairman further said the government should either formulate a policy to deal with the issue or enhance the body’s technical capacity.

“The PTA had blocked 49,000 website links so far. We also have a cell that monitors the internet for such content,” he informed the panel.

“Besides, we also spread awareness through advertisements in newspapers and cell phone SMS. We have a phone number and email address where citizens can lodge their complaints.”

The PTA chairman also said a policy on social media would be unveiled soon.

The committee expressed its concerns over the blasphemous content on social media and called for stern legal action against the people responsible for spreading such material.

Barrister Saif said social media content that was aimed at offending the sentiments of the followers of all faiths was unacceptable.

“It is the government’s responsibility, particularly that of the PTA and the FIA [Federal Investigation Agency], to ensure that elements trying to create unrest in the society were taken to task,” he added.

The FIA director general informed the committee that the authority responds immediately to complaints and so far 19 cases of spreading blasphemous content had come to the fore. He added that the suspects in the cases had been arrested. “Fifteen have been filed in connection with these cases in Lahore and four in Islamabad.”

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