ISLAMABAD – The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said on Sunday that misuse of the cyber crime law by the government was unacceptable.
In a statement, PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the increasing misuse by the state of the cyber crime law, as evidenced in the intimidation and harassment of social media activists for allegedly criticising national security policies, was a matter of serious concern and must be stopped.
“The misuse and overuse of blanket orders issued last week by the interior ministry to take action against social media platforms in the name of national security is not acceptable,” he said.
Babar said that it was disturbing that in a short span of time nearly 1,000 cases had been registered against social media platforms.
“In addition, provisions of the cyber crime legislation have been arbitrarily interpreted to impose new restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in the name of national security,” he said.
The lawmaker said that the freedom of expression was already under threat from non-state actors in the name of faith and ideology and by preventing discussion on the misapplication of faith related laws.
He said that it was now increasingly threatened by the state also in the name of ‘national security’ disregarding freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.
“Silencing political dissent in the name of security or ideology is not acceptable,” he said.
Babar said that there was also a need for appropriate legislation under Article 19 so that freedom of expression was not unduly stifled behind vague and undefined terminology.
“Publicly voicing concerns about national security narrative of the state is not undermining the security. On the contrary, by presenting alternate opinions, it strengthens national security and should be welcomed,” he said.
He said that it was unfortunate that the government had chosen to respond to increasing opposition to its policies by stifling dissent in the name of national security. “The policy of clamping curbs on social media platforms and freedom of expression is undemocratic, against the Constitution and is counterproductive and must be reversed,” he added.