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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has urged the government to immediately withdraw the unlawful and unconstitutional "rules" and refer the matter of social media and internet regulation to the Parliament.

Central Information Secretary Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) Dr Nafisa Shah said that her party strongly condemned what it called a "digital dictatorship", which the PTI government aimed to impose through the recent rules that had been announced.

She said in a statement on Friday that the "Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2020" were unconstitutional, regressive, malafide, and violated Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.

She said that besides those were hardly rules, in their content and implication, they seemed to be a separate law, which should have been referred to the Parliament.

"Through these draconian provisions the government claims for itself indiscriminate power to survey and monitor digital content and restrict and block individuals and social media companies that in its view do not comply with the rules. These rules are therefore, nothing but an instrument for the "fascist" government to muzzle the press, intimidate citizens, and silence opposition, and are therefore unacceptable," the PPP leader said.

She said that it was ironic that the PTI tabdeeli government whose own support came on the back of social media, and which had set new records of trolling and abusive content in the country, was now set on blocking social media platforms and content, making a mockery of both the PTI goal of a "digital Pakistan" and the prime minister's claim of "I am democracy".

"The most egregious part is that the new provisions allow blocking of dissemination of any information which criticises government and holders of public office."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

PPP