LAHORE: In hearing pertaining to anti-judiciary campaign on social media, the ministries of foreign affairs and interior spokespersons stated before the Lahore High Court (LHC) that Pakistan is not a signatory of any convention on cybercrime except the mutual legal assistance agreements signed with four countries.
LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Mamoon Rashid Sheikh had sought reports from the aforementioned ministries to know where Pakistan stood to control the menace of anti-state or anti-institution campaigns on social media as well as to ascertain the status of the country with regard to international conventions on cybercrime.
Pakistan had signed mutual legal assistance agreements with Kazakhstan in 2001, Sri Lanka in 2006, Uzbekistan in 2007 and China in 2010.
The ministry of foreign affairs updated the chief justice that another convention on cybercrime under the auspicious of the United Nations (UN) is being deliberated upon and Pakistan had supported its idea during the UN General Assembly sessions.
The development emerged after the representatives of both ministries submitted reports before the CJ Sheikh.
Moreover, the interior ministry spokesperson revealed that India was considering signing the Budapest Convention due to which Pakistan should be very cautious before it decided to join the group of signatories.
It was decided to constitute a committee of all stakeholders comprising of law enforcement agencies, law and justice division, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), ministry of information technology and ministry of foreign affairs with a mandate to go clause by clause of all sections of the Budapest Convention.
The interior ministry’s representative further sought 15 days to submit a detailed report of all the stakeholders.
Furthermore, the ministry of foreign affairs official asserted that Pakistan has not yet signed the Budapest Convention on cybercrime owing to its highly intrusive clauses which could compromise our data.
Many countries outside Europe including China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore hold the opinion that Budapest Convention was a regional initiative by the European Union (EU) which severely compromises data sovereignty, he said.
CJ Sheikh directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and PTA representatives to submit their detailed reports on the actions taken on such complaints.
The petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique told the court that social media campaign is on its full swing but the relevant departments did nothing except making tall claims.
He said that a conspiracy has been hatched against the state institutions but no action has been taken so far.
He prayed the court to pass an order to take strict action against those involved in such heinous activities.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2020.
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