ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a committee to deliberate and review the new social media rules earlier announced by the government and the committee would submit its recommendations within 30 days. 

It was said in a statement issued by the office of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) on Tuesday. 

The AG office said, “This is with reference to the consultations undertaken by the Attorney-General with the petitioners who had filed petitions in Islamabad High Court and some other parties who expressed interests in deliberations of social media rules namely the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules, 2020.”  

According to the statement, the AGP had recommended to the Prime Minister that further and broad-based consultations were required to frame comprehensive rules for regulation of social media, that protect the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and right to information as envisaged under the Constitution of Pakistan, while also ensuring that the platforms are not abused and material is not disseminated in violation of laws. 

It said that the committee included Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari as chairperson and Parliamentary Secretary on Law & Justice Maleeka Bukhari, Senator Syed Ali Zafar, Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom Secretary as members and PTA Chairman as secretary/member. It added, “The Information Technology & Telecom Division shall function as the secretariat of the committee and the committee shall submit its report along with recommendations in the matter to the Prime Minister within a period of 30 days.”

The statement concluded that the committee would commence its work and the secretariat would intimate the public at large of the date and venue for consultations with all stakeholders including petitioners who had filed petitions in the Islamabad High Court. 

In the previous month, the IHC gave the federal government time until April 2 to amend the new social media rules and directed AGP Khalid Javed Khan to submit a report in this regard at the next hearing of the case. 

The new rules, framed under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA), placed all the internet service providers (ISPs) at par with social media companies and applied all the requirements of the social media platforms to the ISPs as well. Under the new rules, a national coordinator was to be appointed to work with the stakeholders for regulating online systems.