IHC questions government’s measures on stopping pornographic content

A judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), who holds Hollywood movies and video games responsible for promoting pornography and violence, on Friday directed the federal government to submit a report on measures taken to stop pornography in Pakistan.

A single-member bench comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, during the hearing of a petition filed against the alleged uploading of objectionable material on social media, asked the Special Secretary Interior to explain to the court how pornographic content is proliferated in the country and “what the government has done to stop it”.

“The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has blocked 212 websites and 22,210 webpages,” replied the special secretary. “We have also held four meetings with all the stakeholders.”

“There is an entire international gang of pornography from whom the Zainabs and Kulsooms are not safe,” the judge remarked.

The Ministry of Information Technology also submitted in the court a draft of its proposed changes to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016, aimed at bringing blasphemy and pornography within the ambit of cybercrime laws.

Justice Siddiqui found several faults with the drafts, saying: “According to this draft, pornography is being given a free hand in educational institutions. [But] it does not have a definition of pornography. It doesn’t say what kind of literature is based on pornography.”

The judge also remarked that there are some in the IT ministry “whose mission is to make Pakistan a permissive society.”

‘Hollywood central to pornography and terrorism’

Justice Siddiqui said a bulk of the blame for the global proliferation of pornographic content and terrorism lies with Hollywood — the metonymic moniker of American cinema.

“The biggest hub of pornography and terrorism is Hollywood and Los Angeles,” the judge said. “Hollywood plays a central role in inciting of crimes and then our madressahs (seminaries) are blamed.”

“All video games for children are based on crimes. How planes are hijacked and how to commit murders — everything is taught comprehensively,” the judge said, referring to the age-old notion that violence in video games promote aggression and crimes in real life.

‘Morning shows causing destruction’

Justice Siddiqui also took aim at the country’s ‘morning show culture’, questioning why Pemra isn’t doing enough to curb their “destructive material”.

“Morning shows are causing destruction,” he said. “The channels whose morning shows are against our basic morals and Islamic teachings should be banned.”

“What is Pemra doing? Is it helpless?”

The high court also ordered the commissioning of a high-level committee to stop pornography’s proliferation.

“The committee should comprise representatives from ministries of information, IT, law and interior,” he said, adding: “That committee should also review foreign movies and ban the ones which are against Pakistani culture and morals.”

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