- Defence minister says option to block social media always available.
- “In Pakistan, social media is used to incite people,” he laments.
- “Social media is regulated everywhere,” defence minister says.
As the Pakistani authorities ramp up action against May 9 vandals, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Tuesday that the government always has the option to block social media platforms, which can be exercised at any moment.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters ransacked private and public property, including military installations, on May 9 after their party chairman Imran Khan’s arrest.
In the aftermath, the government, claiming that social media was a significant source of incitement, blocked not only the platforms, but internet services as well across the country for nearly four days, affecting millions.
Providing a rationale for blocking the services, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had claimed that the party’s “entire work” was done on the internet, including “the planning and the abuse, all of it is done on social media”.
During an interview on Geo News’ programme “Geo Pakistan” today, Defence Minister Asif said: “The option to block social media is always available. If need be, it [the suspension] can come into force at [any time].”
Defending his stance, the defence minister noted that social media platforms are regulated in China and Europe.
“Social media is regulated everywhere,” the minister said, adding that the platforms were used to incite people, which led to their violent actions on May 9.
The minister also appreciated the accountability of those involved in the attacks on military installations and martyrs’ memorials.
The army dismissed three officers, including a lieutenant general, from service for failing to protect the military installations on May 9.
Asif said that talks are underway for trying civilians in military courts, and while there were legal hurdles, the government would overcome them.