LAHORE: The Punjab Police seems to have given a free hand to its officers to stalk and crack down on what they claim is ‘controversial’ content being shared on social media.
Recent events have indicated that the Punjab Police is encouraging cops to go after people posting controversial material on social media that may be critical of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and state institutions.
Recently, an FIR was registered against Azhar Hussain by ASI Ahmad Kamran in Burewala in the Vehari district in which Hussain was accused of sharing objectionable material on social media.
In the FIR registered by the ASI who was also the complainant, ASI Kamran claimed that he had simply been scrolling through his Facebook feed when he came across defamatory and inappropriate remarks being made by Azhar Hussain against Prime Minister Imran Khan, former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, and other state institutions including the army and judiciary.
The complainant cited numerous posts that Azhar Hussain shared on his social media, including those against PM Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and former chief justice Saqib Nisar. The FIR also accuses him of making derogatory remarks regarding Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.
ASI Kamran told Pakistan Today that he had registered the FIR after he had seen the offensive comments while using Facebook, and that he was well within his rights to crack down on ‘objectionable’ social media activity.
“Such statements against state institutions are against the law, and as a police officer it is my duty to move against such words and complete legal proceedings,” he said.
The ASI went on to say that he and fellow cops were directed by their senior officers to keep a watch on such material.
Denying that he may have possibly registered the FIR in a bid to take personal revenge from someone in his own Facebook friend list, the ASI said he had been asked to bring the full force of the law to such offenders.
“Just recently in Multan, we registered 10 such FIRs. We are cracking down on such hate speech since it is in violation of the law,” he said.
IGP Punjab spokesperson Nabeela Ghazanffar was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to reach her.