Internet Content Threatens National Security, Interior Ministry Tells IHC

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) was informed by the Ministry of Interior that the content uploaded on the internet, specifically on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, poses a threat to Pakistan’s national security. This statement was made during a hearing on a petition filed by journalist Ehtesham Abbasi against the closure of X.

X, a vital source of information, has been inaccessible to millions of users in Pakistan for over a month, following its suspension on February 17. The joint secretary of the Interior Ministry appeared before IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq during the hearing and submitted a report to the court.

The court questioned the method of communication regarding the closure of X and expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, describing it as “closed and jammed”. The court instructed the joint secretary to provide written evidence of the threat to national security, rather than making verbal statements in court.

Justice Farooq insisted on seeing the documents, stating that there would be no verbal conversation. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the report submitted by the joint secretary, suggesting that his secretary could produce a better report. The joint secretary then directed Justice Farooq to another page of the report.

The court questioned whether this was the joint secretary’s first appearance before the court. The secretary reiterated that the content uploaded on the internet is a threat to national security. The court demanded evidence of the threat, criticizing the closure of X based on an Intelligence Bureau’s (IB) report that lacked concrete reasons and was merely speculative.

Justice Farooq asked the joint secretary to submit verdicts from other courts regarding this matter. The court then summoned the interior secretary on April 17. Justice Farooq expressed his concern about the malice in every institution and suggested that this matter should be resolved now that the elections are over.

Justice Farooq warned that if the situation does not improve, he would summon the prime minister. The joint secretary requested the court not to summon any high-ranking official, asking for another chance to address the situation.

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