Islamabad: Pakistan government will not tolerate anti-army content on social media, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Tuesday amid a spate of posts against the military.
"A free-for-all system cannot be allowed. (Social media) has wide outreach, and it shapes public opinion," he said.
In a move bound to raise serious privacy concerns, Nisar also said he wants to clamp down on online anonymity, saying that authorities had proposed that each person's social media accounts be connected with their cell phone numbers by law.
"For the last two weeks, posts making a mockery of Pakistan Army have surfaced," he said in a press briefing. "After the Inter Services Public Relations tweet and its subsequent clarification, the reaction I saw on social media was a matter of concern for me," he said referring to reports of differences between the civilian government and the powerful military.
In October, a columnist for Dawn newspaper wrote a front-page story about a rift between civilian and military leaderships over militant groups.
Army resented the "leaked news" item and asked for a probe. The military had demanded full implementation of recommendations by a committee which probed the leak.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif following the findings of the committee sacked his foreign policy aide Tariq Fatemi but army rejected the move, triggering speculation about the public posturing by the military. "Such posts are not tolerable," the minister said and made it clear that detentions under the cyber crime bill will continue.
In this context, Nisar said, he directed the Federal Investigating Agency to take appropriate action. "Twenty-seven IDs have been identified... eight people were identified who were running some of these accounts, of which six were interviewed and the rest are in queue. There have been no arrests and no harassment," he claimed.
Social media, he said, was not under attack but Pakistan's values and its Constitution by sections of social media. "I assure you, no restrictions are being placed on social media," Nisar said.
He, however, added that a non-regulated social media is not permissible in any democratic country. The interior minister said a code of conduct for social media activities will be devised by taking all stakeholders on-board. "I will request the National Assembly speaker to device a social media code of conduct with different political parties," he said.