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‘National security under threat’ from X: ministry of interior

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KARACHI: The ministry of interior has defended the months-long ban on social media platform X on the ground that it is a “threat to peace and national security” as it spreads “misinformation and incites violence”, it emerged on Monday.

The ban was imposed on Feb 17 on the basis of reports from intelligence agencies.

In its reply placed before the Sindh High Court (SHC), the ministry said: “[The] hostile elements operating on X have nefarious intentions to create an environment of chaos and instability, with the ultimate goal of destabilising the country and plunging it into some form of anarchy.”

It added that elements of society involved in a “defamatory campaign against state institutions” are exploiting platform X to “spread misinformation and incite violence”, posing a grave “threat to the peace and security of the nation”.

Therefore, the ban on X serves as a necessary step to disrupt the activities of these elements and prevent them from achieving their destructive objectives, the ministry stated.

Referring to Article 19 of the Constitution, the interior ministry said the restriction on X was not intended to curtail freedom of expression or restrict access to information.

It was a measure aimed at ensuring responsible use of social media platforms in accordance with the laws of the land, the ministry said.

“Citizens of Pakistan are encouraged to express their views within the bounds of law and respect for societal norms, without resorting to hate speech, incitement to violence, or dissemination of false information,” the ministry said.

It observed that the platform had failed to adhere to “lawful directives” and concerns raised by the federal government. It said that platform X was neither registered in the country nor did it sign any memorandum of understanding (MoU) or agreement to abide by the law of the land.

As a foreign entity, it is subject to the country’s regulatory framework, including compliance with directives issued by the government. But the platform had failed to establish any legal presence or engage in meaningful cooperation with the authorities, the ministry added. “The ministry of interior reiterates its commitment to safeguarding the interests of Pakistani people and ensuring the security and stability of the nation. The ban on X is a necessary step in this direction and is undertaken with due regard for the rule of law and principles of democratic governances,” the ministry stated.

Referring to the earlier restriction on TikTok, the interior ministry said it had banned TikTok over “objectionable content”. The ban was lifted after the platform signed an MoU and agreed to comply with national laws.

In the submission, the ministry also questioned the maintainability of the petition, arguing that the petitioners have no locus standi to file the petitions as no fundamental rights have been infringed.

Furthermore, the ministry contended, the petitioners had not exhausted all available remedies before approaching the SHC. It prayed to the court to dismiss the petition for the “sake of national interest” and to avoid “irreparable loss to national interest”.