Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The ministry of religious affairs asked concerned security agencies on Thursday to allow Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block all websites containing blasphemous, anti-state and/or objectionable content as soon as possible.

The request was made during a crucial inter-ministerial meeting attended by officials of ministries of interior, information technology as well as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

During the meeting, the ministry asked security agencies to give clearance to PTA to block all such websites immediately.

An official privy to the development stated on condition of anonymity that security agencies would first investigate and track the people behind such hate material.

After the meeting, minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousuf addressed a press conference and sought approval from government and concerned departments for PTA to block websites carrying hate material.

Yousaf noted that there was a spike in the number of websites containing blasphemous content recently.

‘The content on these websites is defaming our religion, causing unrest and might lead to sectarian violence in the country,’ he insisted.

Yousaf also detailed the performance of monitoring/complaint cell set up in 2013  to monitor websites containing blasphemous, objectionable, pornography, biased, anti-state, sectarian content on social media as well as on the internet.

According to the monitoring cell, the ministry had received 8,670 complaints against the appearance of blasphemous content on social media and with PTA in the loop action was taken against 700 websites containing objectionable content.

‘At least 565 websites have so far been blocked’ Sardar Yousaf said.