At the hearing of a petition moved by Salman Shahid requesting the court to take notice of blasphemy being committed on certain social media pages a single bench of Islamabad High Court Comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on March 9th ordered concerned authorities to block social media pages or websites containing blasphemous material, and take action against the responsible.

In his petition, Shahid stated that bloggers including Professor Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas, were m making blasphemous posts on Behnsa, Roshni and Mochi – all three social media pages.

He submitted that the pages defiled and disrespected the holy entities of Islam and contained blasphemous material against the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his companions. The petitioner claimed that religious leaders had demanded registration of cases against those responsible for uploading the blasphemous content and hate material.

This act has strongly provoked the sentiments of Muslims and Pakistani law suggests strict punishments for the blasphemers. The posts also allegedly included a sketch of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and uttered blasphemous things about the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), his companions, wives (Azwaje Mutaharat) and the Quran, as well as Allah. Shahid argued that the blasphemous material were being floated on social media but that the concerned authorities were failing to take any appropriate action against them.

Justice Siddiqui directed the authorities to initiate criminal cases against those committing blasphemy and to form a joint investigation team (JIT) to look into the matter.

He said that if the government did not restrict such content, more Mumtaz Qadris would take the law into their own hands.

Justice Siddiqui directed, Inspector General (IG) Islamabad police, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Federal Investigation Agency and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to appear before the court but the interior secretary informed the court he could not appear because of surgery.

On the same day, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed officials of his ministry to devise a comprehensive strategy to curb “character assassination through social media” within three days. He directed them to evolve the strategy in consultation with PTA so that freedom of expression is ensured but no one is allowed to misuse it.