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Pakistan’s Social Media Crackdown to deter anti-military content led to curbing freedom of Expression and Victimizing Political Activists
Islamabad, Pakistan, May 20, 2017:– A Pakistani government crackdown on social media to deter anti-military content has prompted accusations of curbing freedom of expression and victimizing political activists.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government last Sunday ordered the cybercrime department of the Federal Investigation Agency to proceed against activists “dishonoring” the national armed forces through social media.
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Authorities have since detained and interrogated an unspecified number of activists and seized their computers and cellphones. Most of the detainees belong to the opposition Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, headed by Imran Khan.
An independent watchdog group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), has harshly criticized the crackdown. In a statement Friday, it demanded an end to “arbitrary curbs” on freedom of expression and a “climate of intimidation” of political activists, bloggers, journalists and other civil society activists.
‘Hostility’ toward free speech
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“We hope the authorities realize how the prevailing situation demonstrates their hostility towards freedom of expression,” the HRCP said.
Khan has also accused the government of abusing the cybercrime law to “politically victimize” PTI’s social media activists. The opposition politician has been organizing street protests to pressure Sharif to resign, accusing him of corruption.
“Do not force PTI to come out on to the streets. We will never let you muzzle public dissent against you,” Khan warned the Sharif government while addressing a party rally in the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday.
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He alleged that the ruling party through fake accounts had unleashed an anti-army campaign in order to provoke the crackdown on social media activists of PTI. Khan’s party has been good at using social media to mobilize public support and highlight alleged corruption cases against government leaders.
The Sharif government has defended the punitive proceedings against social media activists, saying the constitution does not allow citizens to criticize the national armed forces.
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“Ridiculing the Pakistan army or its officers on social media in the name of freedom of speech is unacceptable” and “a serious offense” under the law, the federal interior minister warned while ordering authorities to arrest and take “severe” action against those involved in such “condemnable” activities.
In its statement, HRCP dismissed those assertions and reminded authorities that the constitution also says any restriction with regard to freedom of speech “must be reasonable and shall not take effect if provided by law.”
The powerful military has ruled Pakistan at three different times, for a total of more than three decades, through direct coups against civilian governments. Critics say it continues to influence political affairs, particularly foreign policy.
The military, particularly its spy agency, also has long faced foreign criticism for allegedly harboring militants involved in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and India.
Analysts say that despite the controversies surrounding the military, the institution has benefited from constitutional provisions that curtail criticism of it. (VOA)
By Nimerta C Sharan
Your monthly round up of the latest lifestyle launches, from luxury indulgences to artisanal creations, here's what you can look forward to :
Exciting news for all handbag lovers, luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton recently launched their limited edition handbags 'Artycapucines - Chapter 3'. Six internationally -- acclaimed artists have transformed the black canvas of the timeless Capucines bag into beautiful art pieces. Each bag will be available in a limited edition of 200 and will be released worldwide at the end of October 2021.
Exciting news for all handbag lovers, luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton recently launched their limited edition handbags. | Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Add To Cart
Looking for a quick festive fashion fix for you and your loved ones? E-commerce giant AJIO has announced it's hottest fashion sale starting September 30, 2021. The shopping platform has roped in stylista Sonam Kapoor as the face of the sale that will offer more than 2500 brands at discounted prices.
E-commerce giant AJIO has announced it's hottest fashion sale starting September 30, 2021. | Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash
The country's leading design house, Good Earth, in collaboration with textile designer Madeline Weinrib will present its collection of 'butah' motif dinnerware and home textiles at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York. The 'Heirloom Project' that honours diverse Islamic design techniques will display curated products from across the globe.
The 'Heirloom Project' that honours diverse Islamic design techniques will display curated products from across the globe. | Photo by Jean Vella on Unsplash
Sweet dreams are made of this! Iconic French patisserie Laduree has opened its first Indian outpost at Delhi's upscale Khan Market. Spread over three floors, the bakery currently has twelve macaron flavours, their signature pastries and tea cakes and other brunch and high-tea items on the menu. Bon appetit.
Iconic French patisserie Laduree has opened its first Indian outpost at Delhi's upscale Khan Market. | Pixabay
Bright And Beautiful
Raw Mango's latest festive edit 'Moomal' goes live on their website on September 26, 2021. Inspired by the richness and diversity of Rajasthan, the collection consists of organza and silk saris and shararas, gota lehengas and kurtas and embroidered odhnis. The colours and silhouettes are just right for the upcoming festive season. (IANS/ MBI)
Raw Mango's latest festive edit 'Moomal' goes live on their website on September 26, 2021. | Photo by Souravi Sinha on Unsplash
Keywords: Lifestle, AJIO, sale, Deepika PAdukone, saris, Motifs, artisan, art
Actress Kangana Ranaut has talked about how her weight adjustments for her latest 'Thalaivii' that "messed up many things" in her body and left her with "permanent stretch marks". For her role in the film, based on the life of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and former actress J. Jayalalithaa, Kangana had to gain 20kg and undergo major physical transformation several times.
She took to Instagram to share her experience, detailing that doing all that over the six months period left her with "permanent stretch marks". "Gaining 20 kgs in 6 months and loosing it all within 6 months that too in my thirties messed up many things in my bodya I also have permanent stretch marks as well but art comes to life with a price and more often than not price is the artist him/herself," she wrote.
"Thalaivii" showcases the varied aspects of Jayalalithaa's life, tracing her journey as an actress at a young age to becoming the face of Tamil cinema, as well as the rise of the revolutionary leader who changed the course of the state's politics. Talking about her upcoming works, Kangana currently has 'Dhaakad'.
She is also shooting for her next 'Tejas', where she plays a fighter pilot. The Indian Air Force was the first of the country's defence forces to induct women into combat roles in 2016. The film takes inspiration from the landmark event. 'Tejas' is directed by debutant Sarvesh Mewara. The film will be RSVP's second film which pays a tribute to the Indian military after the immensely successful film "Uri: The Surgical Strike" which was released in January 2019. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Kangana Ranaut, Thalaivii, bollywood, stretc marks, actress, tamil cinema
Signal's encrypted messaging app continues to be down on Monday after facing global outage on Sunday. The firm said it is working to fix it. "Hold tight, folks! Signal is currently down, due to a hosting outage affecting parts of our service. We're working on bringing it back up," the firm said in a tweet on Sunday.
The status website says the encrypted messaging app is "experiencing technical difficulties" and many people are also getting an in-app error message that says the same thing. Signal allows for secure and encrypted video, voice and text communication, but users are unable to send any messages.
According to Downdetector.com, users started reporting outages around 11:05 PM Eastern Standard Time and it appears to be affecting people around the world. Comments shared on Downdetector.com indicates that Signal was down for users from India, US, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and many other countries.
"Down in Midwest USA. Signal was started by people connected to which secret 3-letter organization? (Look it up) Yep, that's right! An app disguised a privacy app to trick you into sharing more private information than you would with another messaging app," a user said. "I think Signal is having a rough day. Good luck, Team Signal. I'm sure you'll have it sorted out in a snap," said another. The encrypted messaging service has climbed to the top spot in the free apps category of the App Store in multiple countries, including India. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Signal, app, encrypted, messages, outage, down