ISLAMABAD - While showing his reluctance to give any details about alleged disappearances of social media activists, Interior and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday said that a framework was being prepared for the monitoring of social media to save the state institutions from any kind of disrespect.

He said in the same breath that parliament also included in the category of state institutions besides the judiciary and the army and demands equal respect like other institutions.

“We are preparing a framework in consultations with all stakeholders to monitor social media so that foreign elements could not used it to create chaos in the country and state institutions could not be disrespected as well,” he said while addressing a press conference here in Islamabad. He also advised that social media activists to avoid disrespecting the parliament and democratic system.

The minister said after the finalisation of framework, the government would take notice of any baseless campaign about parliament, armed forces and judiciary. The framework would prepare in consultations with IT experts, bloggers and all other stakeholders, he said.

However, the minister avoided to give any details about the disappeared social media activists and only focussed on the future strategy of the government to monitor the social media. His reluctance gave rise to more speculations about the disappearance of social media activists and conflicting reports about a crackdown launched by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other security agencies against social media activists who use the platform to write against the army and the judiciary.

Last week, former prime minister and head of ruling party Nawaz Sharif in a statement had asked for the recovery of those disappeared social media activists who had endorsed the point of view of his party. His statement came after FIA also booked two activists under the prevention of cyber crime law passed by this government in 2016. The interior minister, the other day, had ordered a probe saying on whose orders the social media activists were being picked.

Responding to a question as to who was responsible for bringing a controversial amendment in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration for electoral candidates, Ahsan said, the parliamentary committee that finalised the draft comprised representatives of all parliamentary parties. “There was no mala fide intention of anyone in this connection,” he said.

In the wake of a call from some religio-political groups staging rallies and processions in the capital on the issue of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, the minister said, the controversy about declaration form regarding the finality of prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had been settled once for all after the laws was amended. Any ambiguity in the matter had been resolved and appealed to the religious groups and parties to avoid announcing protest demonstrations. However, he said, if any one tried to take the law into its hands in the name of such protests, the federal government will take action.

Unveiling the newly formed two policies of the interior ministry after he took oath of his office in August, the minister said, the government had decided to re-start issuing Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) for foreign spouses of Pakistani nationals. The government earlier had stopped issuing such cards citing security issues.

Announcing the new policy of the interior ministry about bullet proofing of vehicles, Ahsan said the procedure for getting permission for the conversion of normal vehicles into bullet proof ones had been made simple. “Unlike the past and instead of waiting for the months for getting the permission, such permission would be issued with in10 to 21 days ,” he said adding that however each applicant would have to pay Rs0.5 million tax and this would be ensured that he/she did not fall in the list of “ negative category.”

The minister also lashed out at his political opponents especially PTI Chairman Imran Khan what he said that some politicians were promoting an agenda to spread “disappointment.” “They don’t want to see Senate elections going to be held in March next year and want to get the government dissolved.” He said that all their hopes would end in smoke.

“I advise Imran Khan to give lectures on swinging (tactics) of ball (in crickets) and not on development,” he said. He added that Imran Khan should have replicated his development model in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where his party was in power but he could not materialise it. “He (Imran Khan) is following the footsteps of (military dictator) Pervez Musharraf who used to say himself as‘Mr clean’ but gathered all corrupt people around himself,” he said. He said PTI should appoint any one of the three names for the head of (provincial) Ehtesab Commission in KP that were proposed by the party  for the slot of chairman NAB,” he mocked.

Citing report of the World Bank, Ahsan, who is also holding the portfolio of planning and development minister, said the report declared Pakistan among the top five countries which were mobilising private investment in infrastructure. The whole world is appreciating the economic development of Pakistan and feeling the difference. “But there is a sabotage brigade headed by Imran Khan who could not see good news about Pakistan.”  He said that Pakistan was being considered an attractive economy now that was being considered as “slow” in 2013.

Pakistan is being considered in the top five countries of Asia with regard to the transparency. At the same time, he said, Pakistan had to pay a big price for the volatile political situation that emerged due to the Panama case trial and the Supreme Court verdict in this regard.

About the leaking of a letter of Chinese embassy to the media which stated severe threats to the Chinese ambassador and embassy in Islamabad, he advised the media to adopt self-censorship on issues of national security.