‘Judicial activism’ costing country billions: Fawad

Minister slams high court decisions to ban TikTok, set aside appointment of NBP president


Our Correspondent June 30, 2021
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary reiterates govt's commitment to ensure free, independent media

ISLAMABAD:

Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday stressed the need for judicial reforms and slammed the recent high court decisions banning the social media app TikTok as well as setting aside the appointment of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president.

In a tweet, the minister said the country would never be able to come out of its economic crisis unless judicial reforms were introduced.

"My head is spinning after reading about the decision to ban TikTok and remove the NBP president. What are our courts doing? The country has already suffered losses worth billions of dollars due to judicial activism," Fawad added.

Two days ago, the Sindh High Court banned the popular video sharing platform in the country over "immoral content" and for celebrating "LGBTQ-Pride Month".

The latest ban, the third within the last two years, will be applicable till at least July 8, which is the next date of hearing.

An SHC bench issued this order while hearing a “suit of declaration and injunctions” in which the petitioner had nominated the federal government, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and TikTok as respondents.

Earlier on March 11, the Peshawar High Court had also ordered the PTA to ban TikTok over "immoral content".

The PHC, however, lifted the ban on April 1 after the PTA told the court that it had raised the issue again with the TikTok’s administration.

In October last year, the PTA had banned TikTok for the first time over complaints regarding indecent and immoral content.

The ban was lifted 10 days later "after assurance from management that they will block all accounts repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality".

Read more: PM Imran voted 'personality of the week' for highlighting Islamophobia

A day earlier, the Islamabad High Court had set aside the appointments of NBP President Arif Usmani and chairman of its board of directors, Zubair Soomro.

According to the petitioner, the appointments were made in violation of the constitutional rights that ensured equal opportunity for every citizen.

The bench observed that it was necessary to issue an advertisement for the appointment of the board chairman under the law.

The IHC bench through a short order accepted the petition and said the appointments of NBP’s president and chairman of BoD had been made in violation of the law.

According to TikTok's quarterly transparency report released on Wednesday, TikTok removed nearly 6.5 million videos in its Pakistan market between January to March this year for violating the platform's policies.

This makes Pakistan the second largest market to have the most videos removed in the world from TikTok after the US.

“The videos from the Pakistani market violated TikTok’s community guidelines, terms of service and some were promoting COVID-19 misinformation,” the report read.

During the three-month period from January till March 2021, 61,951,327 videos were removed globally, which is less than 1% of all videos uploaded on TikTok.

In the Pakistani market, TikTok removed 6,495,992 videos, making it the second market to get most videos removed after the US, where 8,540,088 videos were removed during this period.

In a separate tweet, Fawad expressed concerns over the rising incidents of Islamophobic attacks in the West.

“A few weeks ago, a Pakistani family was martyred in a racist attack in Canada,” the information minister said on Twitter. “Now again in the city of Saskatoon another citizen - Kashif - was attacked by extremists with daggers.”

Fawad hoped that effective measures would be taken in the West to curb such attacks.

(With input from agencies)

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