Pak social media buffs mum over authorities' autocracy

| Updated: Jul 29, 2017 01:48 IST

New York [U.S.A], July 28 (ANI): Pakistani social media buffs, who are often known for storming out on Facebook and Twitter over critical issues, have become quiet on authorities' autocracy fearing arrest. Pakistan's cyber crime law, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, which was widely being promoted as a tool to punish internet activity by banned militant groups and curb online sexual harassment, is being used to crack down on those who have gone online with criticism of the government and, particularly, the military, reported the New York Times. "Many journalists and activists, especially young people who ask important questions or say critical things on Facebook or Twitter are going quiet, thinking they can be arrested, or worse," said Shahzad Ahmad, a director of Bytes for All Pakistan, a group that campaigns for internet freedom and has appealed the court several times to lift government restrictions in Pakistan. Earlier this year, Dr. Faisal Ranjha was examining a patient in the crowded critical-care unit of his hospital in northeastern Pakistan when an official of the country's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) abruptly walked in, seized his cell phone and arrested him. The officers took him home to scoop up his laptop and the tablet computer on which his 8-year-old son was playing games, then drove the doctor more than 150 miles to the FIA headquarters in Islamabad. He was told that he has been stood accused of leading an anti-Army information campaign on Twitter. Ranjha is one of the dozens arrested and investigated since January for their social media use, under the sweeping cybercrimes law passed by Pakistan's Parliament last year. Dr. Ranjha asserted that he had never crossed any line with his posts. He was freed on May 22 after two days of questioning, but his devices have not been returned, and the FIA has taken control of his Twitter account to make it ccessible. (ANI)