Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has asked the interior ministry to crack down on any individual or groups involved in posting blasphemous material about the Hindu religion, after the minority community leaders protested against a wave of online hate speech hurting their religious sentiments. The directive came yesterday after a picture of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan depicted as a Hindu god was doing the rounds on social media. The Speaker issued the directive following a protest by Hindu legislators who said that their religion was being smeared in a wave of hate speech online, the Dawn reported.
The issue was raised by Ramesh Lal who presented an example of the blasphemous content — a picture of a Hindu deity with Imran’s face, the report said. Such posts have deeply hurt the religious sentiments of more than four million Hindus living in Pakistan. The lawmaker said that such offences were covered by cyber laws and should not remain unpunished, it said. Demanding legal action against the perpetrators for posting blasphemous content, he asked the speaker to order an inquiry into the matter.
Another parliamentarian Lal Chand Malhi said there was evidence of a malicious online campaign targeting the minority community and desecrating images that were revered by millions of Pakistani Hindus. In response to the complaints, Speaker Sadiq directed Minister of State for Interior Tallal Chaudhry to complete the inquiry within seven days. He also directed the state minister to lodge a case against the culprits with the Federal Investigation Agency. Lal said he along with Malhi prepared a complaint letter which will be handed over to Chaudhry. He said that the social media campaign against the Hindu community had been going on for two weeks.
Earlier in the house, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party fully supported the Hindu community. He alleged that such content was being generated by the social media wing of a political party. Commenting on the PTI allegation, Chaudhry said the government strongly condemned all such acts. He said the internet was full of blasphemous content that was used not only to hurt the feelings of the Hindu community but also to insult Muslims. Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had in the past also taken up the issue of blasphemous content on Facebook and even asked the social networking websites to not allow such offensive posts.
Tallal Chaudhry assured the house that his ministry would investigate the online attacks on the Hindu faith and seek out the culprits.