NO DECISION YET ON INTERNET SHUTDOWN DURING MUHARRAM, CLARIFIES INTERIOR MINISTRY

LAHORE:

The Interior Ministry on Friday announced that no decision has been made regarding an internet shutdown during Muharram.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry stated, “Reports that the provinces’ request for an internet shutdown during Muharram has been rejected are incorrect. Speculation on this matter should be avoided.”
The spokesperson further clarified that the Interior Ministry has not yet made any decision on the requests submitted by the provinces concerning the internet shutdown during Muharram. Additionally, no instructions have been issued by the Prime Minister’s office on this matter.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has reconsidered its earlier request for a complete ban on social networking sites, following media reports that the Interior Ministry had rejected the proposal. However, the Interior Ministry later clarified that no such decision had been finalised.
On Thursday, the Punjab Government sent a letter to the Interior Ministry, requesting the suspension of social media platforms from 6th to 11th Muharram. The letter stated, “Standing Committee of Cabinet on Law & Order (SCCLO), while discussing agenda ‘Security and Administrative Arrangements for Muharram, 2024’ in its meeting dated July 4, 2024, inter-alia, decided that social media platforms, i.e., Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok etc., be suspended across the Province of Punjab from 6th to 11th of Muharram, 2024, in order to control hate material/misinformation and to avoid sectarian violence.”
Also read: Is government shutting down social media for 6 days during Muharram in Pakistan?
X, a social media platform, has been blocked in Pakistan since February on the grounds of national security.
On Friday, several media houses reported that the Interior Ministry had turned down the request to suspend social media platforms and mobile networks, suggesting instead that mobile networks only in procession areas would be suspended. Later in the day, the Interior Ministry denied this report, asserting that the decision had not yet been made and that the Prime Minister of Pakistan would make the final call.
Officials acknowledged the need for suspending social networking sites due to the spread of hate material that could incite violence during Muharram, a period when emotions run high. They cited several hateful posts on social media and an FIR lodged in southern Punjab as indicators of potential unrest.
In response, the Punjab government has stepped back from its initial stance, clarifying that no definite decision has been made regarding the suspension of social networking sites. Information Minister Azma Bukhari stated, “This letter was written in response to the decision taken during the Standing Committee of Cabinet on Law & Order. Chief Minister Punjab Maryam Nawaz has not given her approval and will make the final decision herself.”
Bukhari mentioned that there are two prevailing opinions within the government: one advocating for the suspension of social networking applications, and the other for suspending only the route areas. She referenced a recent incident that surfaced on social media, which the government managed to contain, highlighting the ongoing concern about such incidents during Muharram. She assured that the government would make an informed decision.

Leave a Comment