Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Wednesday directed chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to formulate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for putting in place a framework for social media .
Chairing a high level meeting at Interior Ministry, he directed that initial draft of the SOPs should be prepared in a week's time for further consideration.
“It would ensure that social media is used as a medium to facilitate positive, constructive and healthy interactions, as an engine of growth and a platform for promoting exchange of ideas and not as a tool to propagate false information, pass defamatory comments, ridicule or humiliate sacred personalities, national institutions or jeopardising social, religious and cultural values of any community,” he said.
He also asked Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to convene a meeting of representatives of all political parties for evolving consensus for putting in place a framework to ensure that social media platforms are used in a positive manner.
The minister directed Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Usman Yusuf Mobeen and Chairman PTA Dr Syed Ismail Shah to review relevant laws and regulatory frameworks of neighbouring democratic countries and that of the developed nations for devising a system that ensures freedom of expression while simultaneously checking unbridled misuse of social media .
The minister directed Chairman PTA to consult all stakeholders including the service-providers, civil society, mainstream media and others, for setting guidelines, duly supported by the legal framework, to regulate the use of social media for constructive purposes and nation-building process.
The minister has also asked Foreign Office to get in touch with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Dr Yousef Ahmad al Othaimeen for convening a meeting at the OIC level on the issue of blasphemous content on social media as per the commitment given to him by OIC secretary general during his last visit to Pakistan.
The minister said, “Being a democratic government, it is our obligation to ensure and protect the right of every citizen for the freedom of expression but we are equally bound by the law and constitution of the country to protect our citizenry and institutions from the assault which is carried out through social media under the garb of freedom of expression.”
Nisar observed that, “No conscientious person could be a silent spectator to the threat which is posed to our socio-cultural values, institutions and our younger generations by the mayhem which is sometimes propagated by a section of social media .”
The interior minister said, “The right to free speech is stitched to the sense of responsibility and ownership. Ghost users through their fake ids feel no qualms in misusing their right of expression and thus infringing the rights of others who are deeply affected by their imprudent actions.”
Over the issue of registration of international Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) under the new policy framework formulated by the Interior Ministry on the directions of the interior minister, the minister directed the ministry to finalise the process of making decision on pending application within one month.
The minister also directed interior secretary to set up a wing in the interior ministry with the help of Nadra for facilitation of registered INGOs.