Pakistan detains social media activists

Pakistani authorities have launched a crackdown against social media activists critical of the country’s military and Islam. Several of them have been detained, officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cyber crime cell confirmed on Sunday.

A source in the FIA, requesting anonymity, confirmed that 13 people are being questioned for criticising the military and Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, and three people for mocking the judiciary, while four people are being questioned for ridiculing Islam. However, no case has been registered against anyone so far, the source added.

Political parties and human rights activists have condemned the detentions, claiming that the social-media activists did not commit any crime.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior leader of the Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which is headed by Imran Khan, confirmed that two of the party’s social-media activists had been questioned. “We have repeatedly instructed our activists to follow the laws and they have been doing that. But a general case has been registered by FIA to question the activists.”

Online campaign

Salar Sultan Zai from Quetta was brought to Islamabad and released after questioning, but Owais Khan, the other person held, is still under detention. The PTI has launched an online campaign to protest against the detentions. “We stand by each and every PTI volunteer. Even if they get summoned and searched by anyone all they will find is love for Pakistan,” the party tweeted.

Meanwhile, the PML(N), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, also confirmed that one of its social-media activists — Dr Faisal Ranjha from Lahore — had been detained. He was picked up on Saturday morning from a government hospital, when he was treating patients. A journalist from Islamabad, Taha Siddiqui, was questioned over phone.

Earlier this year, four bloggers were picked up by the authorities and detained illegally for over a month for allegedly questioning the military and religion. All the four left the country after being released as they feared for their safety.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 12:52:16 PM |

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