Govt set to launch crackdown against extremist narratives on social media: Chaudhry

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday announced that the government is gearing up to launch a crackdown against extremist narratives on social media in the next few weeks.

Chaudhry, who was addressing an event in Islamabad, said: “We have created a mechanism through which we will control hate speech on social media as well. A working group of our agencies, including the FIA, sat [to discuss this].

“Our problem is that the digital media is taking over formal media so it is important for us to regulate this. We are bringing a new authority called the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority which will serve as a one-window operation for digital, print and electronic media.

“The informal media is a greater problem than formal media as the former is soon set to take over the latter so the need was to build a capacity through which we can monitor social media, trace fake accounts and those who break the law could be prosecuted.

“This week we have made some important arrests on the basis that they used social media to issue fatwas and advance their extremist narratives and threats. In the next few weeks we will launch a strict crackdown.

Chaudhry made it clear that the state will not allow extremists to dictate their narrative by use of force.

“The state wants a dialogue but that cannot happen if other does not let you do that,” he said. “If you are told that ‘my opinion is final and if you disagree I will shoot you or you should be hanged for saying this’ then you are using the state’s powers. Only the state has the power to use force or violence. Any individual cannot be allowed to the same.

“There is also a need for an international debate and it is taking place too. We’re very glad that his Royal Highness is coming to Pakistan and the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 actually also provides a massive opportunity against extremism.

“We want to build a national and international narrative against extremism and we believe in making the laws reign supreme in Pakistan.”