ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court Monday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit a report on the activities of four bloggers – who went missing earlier this year and resurfaced a few days later – and how they had managed to leave Pakistan.
Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered the FIA Director General Mohammad Amlesh to personally supervise the inquiry, pending before FIA, and ‘take action[s] which are necessary to achieve the objectives, strictly in accordance with law.’
Hearing a case of blasphemous material on social media, five bloggers had been accused of creating pages such as ‘Bhainsa’ ‘Mochi’ and Roshni.
Petitioner Salman Shahid, through his lawyer Tariq Asad, had approached the IHC stating that blasphemy was being committed through the pages.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman Syed Ismail Shah told the court that a number of pages containing blasphemous content had been blocked while efforts were being made to tackle the issue.
The chairman further submitted that there is a realisation of the gravity of the issue and assured the court that positive results would be achieved soon.
When the case was taken up on Monday, Interior Ministry’s Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan submitted that entire machinery of the government had been put in motion while necessary directions have also been issued in this regard.
He added that all intelligence and law enforcing agencies have started probing the matter to identify the real culprits, their abettors and sponsors.
Meanwhile, additional FIA DG submitted a report showing the progress of their inquiry.
A copy of a letter, written by Information Ministry secretary to the Principal Information Officer, PEMRA Chairman, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation DG, PTV’s MD and IHC registrar was placed on record.
In the letter, the secretary said that the IHC had directed to ensure that “advertisements, publications and broadcast must adhere to the norms of morality, decency and ethics.”
He added that the heads of concerned organisations must personally attend to these sensitive issues in order to protect the moral and social fabric of the society while “any contradiction be dealt with effectively under the law.”
Limits of freedom of expression
Meanwhile, Justice Siddiqui directed the Information Ministry secretary to launch a media campaign to highlight Article 19 (Freedom of Speech) of the Constitution, along with its prescribed limitations and consequences of its non-adherence.
In the order, Justice Siddiqui stated that it was the right time to educate the public and invite the attention of respectable media personalities towards Article 19 and the limits it prescribes.
Justice Siddiqui added that whoever crosses the legal limits was guilty of disrespecting the Constitution and liable to be prosecuted.
The secretary information was directed to present a compliance report along with material of the campaign on March 17.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2017.