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Pakistan forms JIT to probe “malicious” social media campaign


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The caretaker government of Pakistan has formed a five-member joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate a “malicious” social media campaign against Supreme Court judges. The JIT, formed under Section 30 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016, will be convened by the additional director general of the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing. The team includes representatives from the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, and the deputy inspector general of Islamabad police. The JIT’s terms of reference are to “ascertain facts behind malicious social media campaign attempting to malign the image of the honorable judges of the Supreme Court” and to identify and bring culprits to book by relevant laws.

The Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association have backed Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and the Supreme Court against the backdrop of a “smear campaign” that erupted on social media soon after the Jan 13 judgment. The officials of the two bodies stressed that everybody had the right to criticize any judgment, but they would not tolerate the criticism of judges and the apex court using foul language. The PTI has rejected the PBC and SCBA’s “political press conference,” saying it was part of the same scheme under which the door of free and fair elections had been closed by the Supreme Court upon 125 million voters of the country.

The PTI claimed that of the 175 political parties in the country, it conducted the most effective and transparent intra-party elections. The officials also asked the PTA and the FIA that instead of becoming silent spectators, they should swiftly move by tracing social media accounts that generate such campaigns. The court should also initiate contempt of court proceedings against those found guilty of launching smear campaigns against judges. The authorities did not identify any social media posts they deem part of the campaign. The JIT shall submit a preliminary report to the Ministry of Interior within a fortnight.

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