While the state maintains that the purpose of the newly introduced laws is to counter the abuse of social media, many human rights organisations do not buy this narrative. Before these organisations could join together their hands to exert pressure on the state came the comments of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Gulzar Ahmed. While addressing a seminar on cybercrimes in the Punjab Judicial Academy (PJA), the honourable CJP urged the government to introduce strict cyber laws in the country.

It is not to challenge or undermine the wisdom of the CJP; nevertheless, fears are that the state will take a cover behind CJP’s words to introduce even more draconian laws to curb on dissent. After the state’s assault on mainstream media, social media platforms are the only remaining spaces where critical debate still takes place.

Any technological advancement indeed brings a new set of problems with itself. The same happened with the emergence of the cyber world, in general, and social media, in particular. Many people use the cyber world and social media to commit acts that ordinarily might be considered crimes. Hence, the need for regulating the cyber world is much needed.

However, considering the fears that many human rights groups and journalists’ consortiums expressed, the CJP must provide the necessary guidelines to the government so that the latter does not infringe upon the fundamental rights of the people. The present rules for regulating social media are incredibly vague. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have also criticised the new regulations for their vagueness.

The least the CJP can do in this regard is to direct the government to work in close consultation with the opposition parties, media groups and organisations working on citizens’ digital rights. This way, the state can come up with a better framework against cybercrimes.