ISLAMABAD           -      Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi on Thursday said India could not gag the Kashmiris’ voices through social media blackout.

Expressing profound concern over the muzzling of Kashmiri voices on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, Shehryar Afridi said that social media giants were abusing the freedom of expression of the people living under the brutal military occupation in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Afridi shared the views during a meeting with Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Maj. Gen. (retd) Amir Azeem Bajwa here at the Parliament House.

He said that Kashmiris were fighting for a UN guaranteed right to self determination and gagging their voices was violation of UN Conventions on freedom of speech.

“At a time when world talks about freedom of expression and freedom of speech, it is unfortunate that the voices of Kashmiris are stifled in the name of so-called community standards,” Afridi said. 

He said the Indian lobbyists and employees of Twitter and Facebook were influencing the social media giants to stifle the voices of Kashmiri activists which was violation of UN conventions on freedom of speech.

The Kashmir Committee Chairman said that misuse of media tools like search engine optimisation, artificial algorithms and sponsored advertisements to suppress the voice of oppressed and deprived communities on social media was immoral by all means. 

“It is a pity that the owners of social media sites have given their Indian employees freedom to push Indian agenda on the social media sites and gag voices questioning the Hindu-Fascist agenda of India in Kashmir.”

Urging the champions of freedom of expression and freedom speech to take cognisance of the gag, Afridi said that millions of Kashmiris had been deprived of internet services while the world was a mute spectator. 

“High speed internet services have been blocked for almost one year in Indian Occupied Kashmir while the human rights organisations have been silent over this infringement into the basic rights of the Kashmiri people,” he added. 

He said that Kashmir Committee would play a bridging role with all the state institutions to protect and promote the cause of Kashmir and it would eradicate the legal and technical hindrances in this regard. He urged Pakistani and Kashmiri citizens to raise their voice on social media platforms for Kashmir as community mobilisation was key to protest against the social media gags introduced by management of Facebook, Twitter and other tools. 

Meanwhile, Chairman PTA briefed Afridi on the measures taken by the PTA to protect rights of the social media activists. He said that Pakistan had been writing to social media companies about their double standards in community standards.

He said that Facebook and Twitter managements have been suspending and blocking accounts of Pakistani Parliamentarians and civilians on posts on Kashmir and PTA had been lodging its protest to the management of the social media administration.