ISLAMABAD    -   The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government yesterday rejecting some media reports said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has not registered any case against journalists and social media activists under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari took to the Twitter and said, that “the disturbing news” about registration of cases against journalists and social media activists has found to be “incorrect”. 

A day earlier, some media reports suggested that the Cyber Crime Wing of FIA has booked at least 49 journalists and social media activists under the PECA for allegedly remaining critical to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and state institutions on social media.  

However, no rebuttal or confirmation came either from the Ministry of Interior or FIA about these media reports till a senior member of PM Imran Khan’s cabinet Dr Mazari gave government’s version on this.

“This was disturbing news so I checked and my information is (that) it’s incorrect,” she said adding that FIA was only examining a compliant of a private citizen against around 12 journalists. She further said that it was the duty of the investigation agency to examine all complaints but “no FIR (first information report) has been registered.”  

“FIA can’t register FIR under PECA without following specified legal procedure,” the minister said and urged that anyone with “contrary evidence in terms of FIRs” should inform her so that she could follow up further.

The minister actually said this in response to a tweet by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-governmental organization, which said it was “alarmed by the news in circulation that FIA is registering cases against 49 journalists and social media activists under PECA regulations.” HRCP demanded that “the state refrain from such action and stop using the FIA to curb political dissent.”

Following the tweet of Dr Mazari, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also said that those who “raised a hue and cry without confirmation” now must apologise to the government and the nation.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, a lawyer and senior leader of PTI, also showed his surprise on the statement of HRCP and questioned how an institution of such a “caliber” could issue a statement on news about registration of case without proper investigation. “In an era of fake news, reporting anything without a proper background check can be an attempt to further polarize society.”

A senior FIA official said that the agency under the relevant laws and rules of business could not register a case on the basis of a complaint until a detailed inquiry is held on that complaint.  

Earlier this month, police in different cities had booked at least three journalists for posting “negative propaganda against state institutions and the Pakistan Army” on their social media accounts.

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took to the Twitter and said, that “the disturbing news” about registration of cases against journalists and social media activists has found to be “incorrect”. A day earlier, some media reports suggested that the Cyber Crime Wing of FIA has booked at least 49 journalists and social media activists under the PECA for allegedly remaining critical to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and state institutions on social media.  

However, no rebuttal or confirmation came either from the Ministry of Interior or FIA about these media reports till a senior member of PM Imran Khan’s cabinet Dr Mazari gave government’s version on this.

“This was disturbing news so I checked and my information is (that) it’s incorrect,” she said adding that FIA was only examining a compliant of a private citizen against around 12 journalists. She further said that it was the duty of the investigation agency to examine all complaints but “no FIR (first information report) has been registered.”  

“FIA can’t register FIR under PECA without following specified legal procedure,” the minister said and urged that anyone with “contrary evidence in terms of FIRs” should inform her so that she could follow up further.

The minister actually said this in response to a tweet by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-governmental organization, which said it was “alarmed by the news in circulation that FIA is registering cases against 49 journalists and social media activists under PECA regulations.” HRCP demanded that “the state refrain from such action and stop using the FIA to curb political dissent.” Following the tweet of Dr Mazari, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also said that those who “raised a hue and cry without confirmation” now must apologise to the government and the nation.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, a lawyer and senior leader of PTI, also showed his surprise on the statement of HRCP and questioned how an institution of such a “caliber” could issue a statement on news about registration of case without proper investigation.