‘X’ banned after its adamance to address concerns, court informed

ISLAMABAD  -  The Interior Ministry Wednesday submitted its report regarding the ban on social media site ‘X’ (for­merly Twitter) to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition moved by Ehtisham Abbasi against the closure of ‘X’ which has remained largely restricted in Pa­kistan since February 17. Lawyers Sardar Masroof and Amna Ali ap­peared before the court on behalf of the petitioner.

During the hearing, Interior Sec­retary Khurram Agha, on behalf of the ministry, submitted a report in the court in response to the peti­tion challenging the ban on the so­cial media platform. 

The interior ministry informed the bench that the ban on social net­working site ‘X’ was necessary fol­lowing the platform’s failure to ad­dress concerns regarding its misuse.

The report also requested the court to dismiss the petition stat­ing that ‘no right of the petitioner has been deprived’. It added that the failure of Twitter/X to adhere to the lawful directives of the government of Pakistan and address concerns re­garding the misuse of its platform ne­cessitated the imposition of a ban. It further said that the peti­tion against the closure of X is con­trary to law and facts.

The FIA Cybercrime Wing had re­quested X to ban accounts that were propagating against the chief jus­tice. It noted that X officials ignored the requests of the FIA Cybercrime Wing and did not respond, follow­ing which the decision to temporari­ly close the site was taken.

The report stated that at the re­quest of intelligence agencies, the Ministry of Interior issued orders for the closure of X on February 17, 2024, aimed at safeguarding the national security and law and or­der situation.

It maintained that the decision to impose a ban on Twitter/X in Paki­stan was made in the interest of up­holding national security, maintain­ing public order, and preserving the integrity of our nation. 

Social media platforms are being used indiscriminately to spread ex­tremist ideas and false information. X is being used as a tool by some ne­farious elements to undermine law and order and promote instability, said the report.

It also stated that the closure of X is not against Article 19 of the Con­stitution and is in response to the rising security concerns that led to the ban on many social media plat­forms, even around the world.

The ministry maintained that the social media platform’s closure is not intended to curtail freedom of expression or access to information, but is aimed at the responsible use of social media platforms in accor­dance with the law.

It continued that the Ministry of Interior is the protector of the citi­zens of Pakistan and responsible for national stability. The report men­tioned that social media platform TikTok was also banned by the gov­ernment earlier, adding that the ban was lifted after TikTok signed an agreement to abide by Pakistani law.

The IHC Chief Justice said that an­other petition had been filed on the disruption of social media platform and the court is also issuing notices to the respondents and seeking a re­ply on the new plea.

Later, the bench deferred hearing of the case till May 2 for further pro­ceedings.

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