Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar on Sunday directed the Federal Investigation Agency to launch a crackdown against web sites targeting security institutions, especially Pakistan Army .

“Issues such as national security and institutions that are responsible for protecting the state’s sovereignty should not be criticised,” Waqt News quoted the minister as saying.

Activists and opposition lawmakers have voiced fears of a crackdown on social media, the last bastion of free speech in a country where journalism is increasingly under threat, following the apparent abductions of four leftist bloggers.

Pakistan is routinely ranked among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, and reporting critical of security policies controlled by the powerful military is considered a major red flag, with reporters at times detained, beaten and even killed.

Relations between the civilian government and military have often been strained in Pakistan, where several prime ministers, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself during a previous administration in 1999, have been ousted in coups.

The military has ruled Pakistan for 33 of the 70 years since the country gained independence from Britain in 1947.