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FIA should crack down online mudslinging against candidates: Senate

21 July, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior has called upon the government, especially the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), to crack down upon mudslinging against candidates online in the run-up to the general election.

“As objectionable material is being uploaded from abroad so it becomes difficult to take action. We are trying our best to investigate the matter and take action against the elements concerned, but there is a lack of coordination between the FIA and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA),” the investigation agency’s cybercrime director, retired captain Muhammad Shoaib, said in a statement before the committee.

Dwelling upon the damage being done to electioneering via social media, Senator Ateeq Shaikh said some elements had posted disrespectful pictures of politicians that place their faces on animals such as donkeys and dogs.

“These elements circulating such images on social media want to sabotage election activities and bring unrest to the country,” he said.

The senator expressed alarm over an image of a grave being used as an election symbol. “I asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) but was told that the grave was not included in the list of election symbols,” Ateeq Shaikh said.

Mr Shaikh was of the view that stringent measures had become unavoidable to contain abuse of social media by elements out to damage credibility of the election process.

Muhammad Shoaib, the FIA official, said major politicians like Shehla Raza, Talha Mahmood, Pir Sadaruddin Shah, Ayesha Gulalai, Faheem Mughal, Mir Muhammad Sadiq and others had lodged complaints with the FIA that they were being defamed over social media. He claimed that his agency was doing its best to catch the culprits.

Senator Rehman Malik, who chairs the committee, urged the FIA and PTA to hammer out a concerted strategy for redress of complaints. He added that to deal with cybercrime issues effectively, it was crucial that the capacity of the cybercrime cell be augmented.

He suggested that the PTA buy equipment for automatic detection of derogatory remarks and objectionable material on social media because it was impossible to monitor social media manually.

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