ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court has ordered the government to open an investigation into online “blasphemy”, threatening to ban social media networks if they failed to censor insulting content, lawyers said Thursday.
Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court asked the government to form an investigative committee to report back next Monday over the issue, saying he could order social media sites to be blocked if offending content remained online.
“The judge ordered the government to make a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) with Muslim officials only to look into the blasphemy issue,” said advocate Tariq Asad, who represents the Red Mosque which brought the case to court.
Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) that led to global riots.
But Islamabad later came to agreements with major internet firms to block within Pakistan material that violated its laws, generally once the companies had performed their own cross-checks.
Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer who worked to get YouTube unblocked, said previous web censorship had also originated with court orders and the judge could succeed in implementing a fresh set of bans.— AFP