Govt orders crackdown on hate speech online

Published: November 18, 2013

Tells FIA to take action against those spreading controversial statements via mobile phones or social media.

ISLAMABAD: The government ordered the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take strict action against anyone who propagates sectarianism via social media or mobile phones, Express News reported on Monday.

Social media will be monitored for controversial statements that could lead to sectarian conflicts and measures will taken against those who spread such content.

The government also asked the FIA to investigate the issue and ordered them to take action against people who are involved in spreading such statements.

The government’s decision comes after conflicts in Rawalpindi left nine people dead and over 80 injured on November 15. A curfew was imposed in the area and was lifted earlier today.

The tragedy had occurred as a mob turned against the police in the procession passing through Raja Bazaar in Pindi. As mourners massed, a group of miscreants had reportedly snatched guns from police personnel installed in the area for security, and opened fire.

Unknown people had also set a portion of the cloth market in Raja Bazaar on fire. The situation had soon gotten out of hand and the army was called in to control the situation.

‘Militant’ Media

Many proscribed groups have social media accounts, through which they spread hate speech, specifically against Ahmadis and Shia Muslims.

Earlier this year in October, the Sindh government had announced it would  ban instant messaging and voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) clients Skype, Viber and other communication networks  because terrorists were reportedly using them to plot terrorist attacks.

In 2012, Facebook had shut down an account made by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to recruit enthusiasts to write for a quarterly magazine.

TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had confirmed to AFP by telephone that the faction was “temporarily” using the page “to fulfil its requirements” before launching its own website.

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Reader Comments (39)

  • Ex Pakistani
    Nov 18, 2013 - 12:59PM

    this should be done a long long time ago.Recommend

  • Zack
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Love it, appreciate this move, and also closely watch the sermons at mosques.

    Recommend

  • Tamseel
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Good step but it would be much more effective to control hate speeches in mosques. There are mosques in the heart of the capital giving these kind of speeches, God knows how much worse it is in the tribal areas.

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  • Bilal
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:07PM

    why not banning Facebook and internet forever.

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  • Khalid
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:14PM

    Hope we are able to fight this jahalat. Good steps taken.

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:17PM

    Another good decision. ThanksRecommend

  • Ahsan
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:41PM

    Good decision. It was much needed!Recommend

  • pindian
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:46PM

    Yes, there should restriction on hate speech and people should realise the difference between free speech and hate speech.

    Recommend

  • usman786
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:49PM

    banning Fb would be got step as we will get real friendsRecommend

  • Janjua
    Nov 18, 2013 - 1:57PM

    Now we talking…atleast in this way government officially condemning the situation…

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  • Pakistani bloach
    Nov 18, 2013 - 2:18PM

    I have been reporting such stuff nd videos on facebook but to my shock facebook refused to take down videos or pictures of ppl with slit throats or bullet ridden bodies nd hate speeches on other hand you report such stuff
    about westerns nd they will quickly remove nd ban that group or person. its a very good decision from government nd wouldnt mind if government ban such social networking sites for few weeks till situation is under control.

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  • Zarg Khan
    Nov 18, 2013 - 2:24PM

    Good step indeed. Also ban also kind of processions in coming years regardless of religion and sect. Enough is enough !!!

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 18, 2013 - 2:31PM

    Bad luck Pakistan. I have noticed for some time, particularly in Western Governments, that if there is a tendency for any group greater than 10 to question outrageous activities or official policy, the Government of the day produces so called hate speech legislation to keep them quiet in order to protect the Government or an influential group .

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  • ahsan
    Nov 18, 2013 - 2:49PM

    This is a good temporary measure. The Government should overhaul the education system and come up with more employment opportunities.Recommend

  • Ahsan Iqbal
    Nov 18, 2013 - 2:52PM

    This is a good TEMPORARY step to

    I would suggest eh government brings educational and economical reforms in order to provide a permanent solution.

    Regards

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  • Conservative Liberal
    Nov 18, 2013 - 3:14PM

    Not sure if I should be happy or sad. Is this suppression of freedom of expression or a means to counter the extremist elements?

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  • Chica
    Nov 18, 2013 - 3:42PM

    “In 2012, Facebook had shut down an account made by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to recruit enthusiasts to write for a quarterly magazine.”

    TTP’s opened up another Facebook account (probably more than one) and it is running unimpeded.

    It’s important for Pakistanis to start using their own country’s social networks where government controls and censorship can be more effectively administered and maintained. And no, Pakistanis would NOT be doing something unique and unusual by using their own social media sites instead of American ones like Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Aamir
    Nov 18, 2013 - 4:11PM

    What? Again like an ostrich putting our heads in sand.

    What aabout hate speeches blarring out of loudspeakers, written on paper/pamphlets?Recommend

  • Farhan
    Nov 18, 2013 - 4:13PM

    Good. Hate speech should at least be controlled on facebook. Also, close the official accounts/pages of militants. Recommend

  • Nov 18, 2013 - 4:15PM

    right decision. There should be ban on hate speech anywhere and any medium that includes mosques too. Recommend

  • bash gul
    Nov 18, 2013 - 4:19PM

    Hate speeches are mostly delivered during sermons. The govt should have a hot line for people to report anyone spreading hatred during sermons. During Eid congregations one could see people asking for donations in the name of TTP openly. Because they had the backing and support of the Imam of the mosque. A poor man from the remote village studies in a seminary, then comes to Karachi and becomes the Imam of the mosque. He gradually consolidates his writ, builds a house on the Mosque property, then puts up a flag of a politico-religio party and gets support from other seminaries. What are the civil intelligence agencies for? In other countries such agencies carry out undercover operations to gather evidence. Recommend

  • M
    Nov 18, 2013 - 4:23PM

    Can the government also check the Twitter accounts being run by the banned organizations. Some of the accounts in question have been linked to the violence instigated by miscreants on Ashura 10th. Recommend

  • Umer
    Nov 18, 2013 - 6:17PM

    Nothing would happen this is just a gimmick.

    Recommend

  • Asma Bukhari
    Nov 18, 2013 - 6:38PM

    This is really a great step taken by government. Agencies should monitor strictly n vigilantly such people who are spreading hate

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  • Avatar
    Nov 18, 2013 - 6:52PM

    @Zack:
    In imam bargha’s aswell.

    Recommend

  • Ali Hassan
    Nov 18, 2013 - 10:45PM

    what about hate speech through loud speakers? isn’t that the real issue? aren’t more people in Pakistan exposed to that medium?Recommend

  • KDP
    Nov 18, 2013 - 10:54PM

    Government should start with School History Textbook. Remove information that directly or indirectly support or help develop hatred toward people of different culture, and religion

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  • Muslim Leaguer
    Nov 18, 2013 - 10:56PM

    A step in the right direction! Only the PMLN Government has the ability to take visionary step to monitor the social media, unlike the PPP Government in the past that had blocked Facebook and YouTube.
    Good job Anusha Rahman!

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Nov 19, 2013 - 10:47AM

    Even in the most so called Islamic state S. Arabia all the sermons are pre-approved by the govt before delivery to people. There should be no tolerance for hate speech. Those who glorify the tyrants must be dealt with according to the laws.

    Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Nov 19, 2013 - 11:21AM

    Much the best,excellent and august step taken by the government instead of blocking the social media websites and on Youtube’s issue the same step is strongly required instead of blocking the Youtube but here the most important question rises,id est,FIA and PTA don’t have modern technology,technique and softwares to filter the objectionable contents on Facebook and Twitter in this condition how this is going to be easily accessible and practicable whereas just due to unavailability of advanced filtering softwares Youtube has been blocked???????

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 19, 2013 - 3:26PM

    @Mirza:
    And same is the case in OMAN. No body can deliver a Khutba which is not pre approved.

    Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 19, 2013 - 3:56PM

    There appears to be controversy as to whether Beatrice Hall or Voltaire said it, but I do not think anyone can improve on the phrase: ‘I DISAPROVE OF WHAT YOU SAY, BUT WILL DEFEND TO THE DEATH YOUR RIGHT TO SAY IT”. Contrary to some of the submissions, it is my view that free speech is a precious thing. Many governments are attempting to get rid of free speech, and in some cases have succeeded. It is my view that the world is a poorer place when free speech is replaced. Once it is taken away it is very hard to get it back.

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 19, 2013 - 5:28PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    I appreciate your spirit but tend to disagree. We are not mature enough or evolved enough. In a lighter vein FREE SPEECH is not even paid lip service and has absolutely zero tolerance in the ranks of dark forces you so vehemently defend and eulogize in your comments. Have a nice day.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 19, 2013 - 8:35PM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Dear Hasan,

    Why am I not surprised with your reply? The forces of darkness are closing in on us, and the people who will suffer most are saying: “please let it happen”. Unbelievable.

    Recommend

  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 19, 2013 - 9:39PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    Why you cannot reply in a logical and rational manner without vague rhetoric and bland cliches. In case you missed I meant the Taliban enterprise you are so passionate to negotiate with. You dont think they are forces of darkness and you think you can even utter the words Free Speech in Taliban Emirate. You seem incredibly naive to say the least. By the way I am eagerly waiting your second installment of peace negotiations framework. Hopefully you will include right of free speech and multi party system in it. Although they have proven record of zero tolerance for dissent.

    Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 20, 2013 - 1:17AM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    If it was not so tragic it would be amusing to see how so many people fall into line when some type of insurgency starts up. What usually happens is that 6 months before a war erupts the Government propaganda machine is cranked up. This is not difficult, because all the propaganda has been used before for several hundred years. All the propaganda department has to do is start-up Phase 1 on its computer template, change a few names of people and locations, and viola; whilst people are sleeping overnight the Government has instantly churned out its version of why war is an absolute necessity, which unfortunately the people invariably fall for. After the Donnybrook starts the computer goes into Phase 2 and produces more propaganda about how brutal the enemy is and how stoic and brave our people and soldiers are. After the war is ended Phase 3 starts and a day is usually put aside to commemorate the brave and the fallen. The British and Americans have been doing this for hundreds of years and it always works. One could be led to believe that there is no such thing as a telephone. It really is quite simple. All you have to do is ring up the person you are disagreeing with, and work out a solution. Unfortunately, that is too simple. The people in power, for reasons which escape me, like to make things complicated, invariably have no wish to negotiate, and as a result many people finish up no longer with is when in fact they should be with us. It is my understanding that over the last 12 years or so the people no longer with is who should be number over 1 million. Stay with your delusions.

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 20, 2013 - 3:32PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    I apologize for indulging in light sarcasm through a tangential remark and as a result suffering from your long winded generalized academic thesis regarding futility of war and inevitability of negotiation. Believe me I can write better and more forcefully on the topic. Any way I have accepted your argument in previous blog subject to your coming up with plausible framework of peace talks. You have provided one point and I believe you are working on the rest. I commend your effort in advance for boldly going where no one has gone before (apologies to Star Track Enterprise)

    By the way do you or do you not consider Taliban Enterprise the forces of darkness?
    Of course in principle you can still negotiate with them hoping to apply Fair and Lovely
    Cream to lighten the ominous black shade.

    And secondly since you are such a passionate believer in free speech, do you realize its a four letter word in Taliban terminology bordering on sedition / revolt worthy of beheading.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 20, 2013 - 9:32PM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Dear Hasan,
    I semi-apologise for being long winded. However, you did say you were eagerly looking forward to my 2nd installment. In regard to the Taliban, I do not wish to move with my women folk to the Waziristan Region. However, the Taliban exist, they are a problem, but they will not change. I feel quite passionate about free speech. I have lived in countries where free speech has been modified. It usually happens when the government of the day is subjected to intense lobbying. It sounds quite reasonable at the time, but later on you find sub-clauses in the legislation, which are very unreasonable, and then it is too late. Defamation legislation may not be quite so powerful, but is adequate for most situations, if not abused, and as I have said before free speech is a precious think which does not come back once it is lost. Also, I would have thought that by curtailing free speech, it would be playing into the hands of the Taliban, who you say do not like it. . In regard to forces of darkness, it is complex and will require a long dissertation so I will not go into it, but I think my views are becoming well known.
    I can very occasionally enjoy a Star Trek episode on a cold winters night when I wish to escape from reality, and Pakistan’s reality is not really marvelous. I really do not have the answers, but let us hope that the future will improve?

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  • optimist
    Nov 22, 2013 - 12:44AM

    My mum used to tell me not to eat anything given by Shias. We would regularly throw away thinngs that they would send on any occasion. I can’t write about her views here as it would come under that very law.
    .
    Who will take action against moms teaching these things to their kids?

    Recommend

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