The table below is based on information available in news reports, online and legal documents. It records incidents between 2017-2019, where legal action under existing laws has been taken against individuals on the basis of their social media posts, which includes issuance of summons, initiation of enquiries, registration of FIRs, detentions and arrests.
Summons, Enquiries, FIRs, Detentions and Arrests
|1||2016||PECA||Zahid Mumtaz, accused of propagating against the state and the Pak army on social media, has been convicted by the Additional Sessions Judge Rawalpindi Ashfaq Ahmad Rana. He has been awarded four-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of PKR 250,000/-|
|2||17 March 2017||–||Karachi: Lawyer Jibran Nasir summoned by the FIA U/S 160 of the CrPC|
|3||17 May 2017||–||Islamabad: Salar Kakar, a member of the PTI’s social media team, summoned by the FIA U/S 160 of the CrPC in Enquiry No. 23/2017. Kakar was detained by the Counter-Terrorism Wing of the FIA and asked to submit his laptop and phone.|
|4||18 May 2017||–||Islamabad: Journalist Taha Siddiqui received a phone call from an FIA officer instructing him to appear for questioning at the FIA station.
Siddiqui moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against intimidation and harassment by the FIA. The IHC issued notices to the FIA to appear before court on May 29, restraining them from harassing the petitioner and instructing them to proceed in accordance with the law. Despite court orders, the FIA issued a summon directing Siddiqui to appear before them for questioning, failure to do which would carry legal consequences
|5||20 May 2017||–||Islamabad: Member of PTI’s social media team, Owais Khan, taken into custody by the FIA for an alleged “violation of the cybercrime law.”|
|6||21 May 2017||–||Islamabad: The FIA summoned and detained six individuals for questioning regarding their social media posts allegedly “against the armed forces and state institutions.”|
|7||23 May 2017||–||Gujranwala/Islamabad/Peshawar: Umair Talat reportedly picked up from Gujranwala and brought to the FIA’s headquarters in Islamabad.
In a separate incident, PTI social media activist Furqan Kakakhel reported the party office was ransacked over the weekend and DSLR cameras, USBs and memory cards were missing.
|8||30 May 2017||PECA||Lahore: FIR 53/2017 lodged against Adnan Afzal Qureshi U/S 20 and 24 PECA R/W PPC 419, 500, 506. The FIA claimed the activist was arrested for allegedly posting “anti-military tweets” and using “abusive language against military personnel and political leaders.”|
|9||05 June 2017||–||Islamabad: FIA identified 27 people allegedly engaged in “anti-army propaganda” out of which seven were called in for questioning, their electronic equipment was seized and sent for forensic analysis – without a formal charge.|
|10||25 June 2017||PECA||Quetta: Journalist Zafarullah Achakzai, an employee of Daily Qudrat, was arrested for allegedly posting “anti-army” content on social media. He was granted bail on July 4 against a bond amount of Rs. 80,000.|
|11||19 October 2017||PECA, PPC||Rawalpindi/Islamabad: Two PML-N social media activists namely Anwar Adil and Wajid Rasul Malik were arrested by the FIA for allegedly posting “defamatory material against judges of the Supreme Court as well as members of the armed forces and the government.” FIR No. 15/2017 was lodged against Anwar Adil Tanoli, charged U/S 9, 10(a), 20 of PECA R/W Sections 500, 501, 505, 109, 34 PPC. Two female party workers of the PML-N’s social media wing, in a letter addressed to the then Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal, reported harassment by the FIA.|
|12||02 July 2018||PECA||Jhelum/Lahore: FIA arrested Haroon Ali, a supporter of PML-N, for allegedly running a bogus Facebook account by name “Ro Imran Ro”, which page, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhary complained, was maligning him. Fawad Chaudhary in his complaint said that a malicious campaign against him was being run on social media which was not only affecting his political image but also causing sectarian hatred thus endangering his life.
An FIA cybercrime team raided the residence of Haroon Ali in the Dina area in Jhelum and arrested him. “The suspect posted malicious content against PTI leaders including fake posts of Mr Chaudhry related to Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, and it could have endangered his life,” FIA cybercrime deputy director Khalid Anees said. A case was registered against Haroon Ali under Section 24 of the PECA.
|13||11 July 2018||PECA||Dera Ismail Khan/Rawalpindi: Taken into custody on 05 June 2018, FIR No. 31/2018 was lodged against Hayat Preghal U/S PECA 9, 10 R/W PPC 500, 109 for allegedly posting content “critical of Pakistani state policies” on social media.
On 27 September 2018, Preghal was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court on the condition that he surrender his passport to the court, have his name placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), while the FIA monitored all his activities on social media.
|13||19 September 2018||ATA, PPC||Islamabad: FIR 203/2018 lodged against former Senator Faisal Raza Abidi registered U/S 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) R/W Sections 500, 501, 505 (II), 228, 121 and 109 of the PPC registered for allegedly using “highly insulting and inappropriate language against the chief justice” on a web show.|
|14||19 September 2018||PECA, PPC||Islamabad: FIR No. 05/2018 lodged against former Senator Faisal Raza Abidi, Hans Masroor, the owner of a web channel Naya Pakistan, and the producer of the channel Ahsan Saleem U/S 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 R/W Sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code, for allegedly running “anti-judiciary” content on their channel.|
|15||26 September 2018||PECA, PPC||Islamabad: FIR No. 06/2018 lodged U/S 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 R/W Sections 109 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code registered against unidentified persons for allegedly uploading “false and malicious material” against the judges of the Islamabad High Court namely Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb on the complaint of the registrar of the Court.
According to the FIR, the videos in question had been uploaded on a YouTube Channel titled “The One Man Army’ with a URL www.youtube.com/channel/UCICrlCmhm4qeEw3bQSXktwQ/about. The social media channel was run by someone with an alias of ‘Chacha Shakoor’.According to the Facebook page of ‘Chacha Shakoor’, his “real name” is Abdul Shakoor Ajmal and he also runs other social media accounts on Facebook and Dailymotion.
|16||4 February 2019||PPC, MPO, Punjab Sound Systems (Regulation) Ordinance, 2015||Multan: Four men were arrested for allegedly delivering “hate speech of a sectarian nature and defaming members of the government.” The case was registered U/S PPC 500, 506, 109, MPO 14, 16 and Punjab Sound Systems (Regulation) Ordinance, 2015 3/6. Allegedly, two of the suspects recorded the speech and uploaded it on Facebook and other social media platforms.|
|17||08 February 2019||PECA||Lahore: FIR No. 24/2019 U/S 11 and 20 of PECA R/W 123-A and 500 PPC lodged against Rizwan Razi for allegedly posting “defamatory and obnoxious” content against the judiciary, government institutions and intelligence agencies.
A magisterial court on 10 February 2019 granted bail to journalist Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, declining FIA’s request to remand him into its custody for 10 days.
|18||15 February 2019||Telegraph Act||Vehari: FIR No. 129/2019 lodged against Azhar Hussain U/S 25 of the Telegraph Act for allegedly putting up “satirical posts about Imran Khan and Army Chief General Bajwa.”|
|19||16 March 2019||PPC, MPO||Bahawalpur: FIR No. 158/2019 lodged against Asim Azhar U/S PPC 124-A and MPO 16 for allegedly posting “anti-government” and “anti-army” comments on Facebook.|
|20||28 March 2019||–||Islamabad/Rawalpindi: A letter by Director NR3C, dated 13 March 2019 ordered all additional directors of the FIA in Rawalpindi to launch inquiries against six journalists/social media activists, namely Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood, Umer Cheema and Ahmed Waqas Goraya, for using the picture of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as their display picture, which was “disrespectful” towards a “visiting dignity/guest.” The following groups and its members were allegedly “found most active on social media against Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan: Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM), Imamia Students Organization (ISO), Hizbul Tahrir Pak and Tameer-i-Watan Party.|
|21||06 April 2019||PECA, PPC||Karachi: FIR No. 06/2019 lodged against Shahzeb Jillani U/S 10(a), 11 and 20 PECA R/W PPC 34, 109, 500 for allegedly making “defamatory remarks against institutions of Pakistan” on a news programme. Jillani secured pre-arrest bail which was confirmed on 30 April 2019 by the Sessions Court South Karachi. Section 10(a) and Section 11 were withdrawn from the final challan by the FIA submitted on 07 May 2019, only a non-cognizable section Section 20 of PECA remained. Due to this on 18 May 2019, FIR No. 06/2019 was disposed off as C class.|
|22||08 April 2019||PECA, PPC||Peshawar: FIR No. 32/2019 lodged against Ismail Mehsud U/S PECA 10, 11 R/W PPC 109 on the complaint of an Asif Raza, for “broaden hate speech and false information against Government Institution Pakistan on Facebook accounts.” The accused persons have been granted bail.|
|23||12 June 2019||PECA, PPC||Gujranwala: FIA arrested Engineer Khalid Yousuf Ansari on the complaint of a resident of Gujranwala, Usman Abid, for allegedly posting defamatory content against Prime Minister Pakistan, Pakistan Army, and Judiciary. FIR No. 26/2019 was lodged against him under Sections 20 PECA R/W Sections 500, 505 and 109 of PPC.|
|24||17 June 2019||PECA, PPC||Gujranwala: FIR registered against Waleed Butt, President of Hamza Youth Wing Punjab of PML-N, on the complaint of a citizen named Ameer Hamza following which Butt was arrested a day later under Sections 11 and 20 of the PECA R/W Sections 500, 505 and 109 of the PPC.|
|25||17 July 2019||–||Islamabad: The FIA arrested Mian Tariq on suspicion of making a video of Accountability Court judge Arshad Malik, which was released on social media by Maryam Nawaz, whereby the judge allegedly admitted to lack of evidence against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted by the same judge in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference in December 2018.
The accused, Mian Tariq, when produced before the court, mentioned that he was tortured and that his bones were broken as a result of torture inflicted upon him. In response to this, the court ordered the investigation officer to produce a medical report of Mr. Tariq on the next date i.e. July 19. The accused was produced before court and sent to jail on judicial remand of 14 days.
|26||18 July 2019||PECA||Lahore: A special judicial magistrate allowed the FIA to lodge a case against Siddiq Butt for sharing alleged “derogatory” material on social media regarding family of former chief of army staff (COAS) Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani under non-cognisable sections Sections 20 and 24 of PECA.|
|27||04 August 2019||Telegraph Act, MPO||Kot Addu: Police arrested Mr. Ali Akbar Pirhar for allegedly posting “hate material” against state “institutions” and “sensitive” agencies and for supporting Pashtun Tahaffaz Movement (PTM) on social media. The police said they registered FIR No. 469/2019 against him under Sections 25-D Telegraph Act 1885 and Section 16 of the MPO and also seized the mobile phone of the accused which Pirhar allegedly used for uploading the posts. According to the FIR, the accused criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and was trying to incite people to violence against state institutions through his posts.|
|28||05 August 2019||–||The FIA sent a questionnaire to PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz seeking answers to over 40 questions pertaining to the Judge Arshad Malik video leak. Maryam Nawaz was asked to submit her response to the questionnaire by August 7.
On 20 August 2019 The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) informed the Supreme Court that Maryam Nawaz had dissociated herself from the video of Arshad Malik. FIA submitted a 105-page report on the video scandal, told the court that it had yet to complete its investigation into the case. The FIA in its report stated that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had also distanced himself from the video. According to the report other participants namely Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Attaullah Tarrar of questioned press conference dated 06 July 2019 adopted a similar stance.
On 26 August 2019 Maryam Nawaz submitted a response to the FIA answering their questions. She responded to forty one (41) questions of FIA team investigating the matter of Judge Arshad Malik who got lodged a complaint against her and a few other leaders of PML-N.
On 02 September 2019, FIA arrested three more suspects namely, Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf, after a cybercrime court dismissed their pre-arrest bail petition.
FIA summoned PML-N leaders, Senator Pervaiz Rashid and PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Uzma Bokhari to appear before investigation team on 30 December 2019 whereas PML-N’s Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarar has been summoned to appear on 27 December 2019 at the FIA’s office in Lahore to record their statements.
|29||22 August 2019||PECA, PPC||Peshawar: FIR33/2019 under sections 10, 11 of PECA read with section 109 PPC was registered against Abdul Hai in enquiry no. ENQ 395/2019 on the complaint of Zubair Ahmed lodged to the Additional Director. As per the FIR, the complaint is regarding “broaden hate speech and fake information” against “government institution Pakistan” on Facebook account. Application was submitted to District and Sessions judge to get an order for Facebook Incorporation to issue IP logs of recent activities. FIA found that the facebook ID was being used by Abdul Hai.|
|30||Undated||PECA||Charsadda/Peshawar: Journalist Muhammad Basit Khan summoned by FIA Peshawar to appear in Enquiry No. 537/2019 initiated against him. The summons do not say what the charge against the journalist is. Mr. Basit Khan was ordered to attend enquiry on 30 September 2019.|
|31||25 August 2019||PECA, PPC||Sukkur/Karachi: FIR 17/2019 under Sections 9, 10 and 11 of PECA read with 109 PPC was lodged against Wahid Bux on the complaint of Inspector Javed Chaudhary FS Wing Hqrs Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, Muslim Jinnah Courts, Karachi.
The complaint reproduced in the FIR says, “He is the admin/ master mind of anti-state whatsapp group regarding engineer and added over hundred like minded people. He used to share hatred material and posts against the sovereignty of the state. The undersigned has directed by the competent authority regarding handing over the above mentioned suspect to FIA Cyber Crime, Karachi. It is therefore requested that the above named suspect may kindly be taken into your custody for further legal proceedings.”
|32||24 October 2019||PECA, PPC||Peshawar: FIR 38/2019 under Sections 10, 11 of PECA R/W 109 PPC was lodged against Professor Muhammad Ismail on the complaint of Sajid Iqbal, Ali Ahmad, Riaz ur Rahman, and Walid Mir “regarding broaden hate speech and fake information against Government institutions of Pakistan on Facebook and Twitter accounts…”
Professor Muhammad Ismail’s arrest was shown on 25 October 2019. He was sent on a fourteen-day judicial remand on 25 October 2019. Professor Muhammad Ismail was granted bail by the Peshawar High Court on 25 November 2019.
|33||28 October 2019||–||Lahore: Sandal Khattak received summons from FIA ordering her attendance on 28 October 2019. She received another summons from FIA ordering her attendance on 05 November 2019. According to what Sandal Khattak has claimed before Lahore Sessions Court, “The FIA has been harassing me. I was summoned for an inquiry on October 28 and November 5, without any knowledge of what the investigation is about”.|
|34||06 November 2019||PECA, PPC||Mardan/Peshawar: FIR 40/2019 under sections 10, 11 of PECA read with section 109 PPC registered against Akhtar Khan s/o Abdul Mabood Khan in enquiry no. ENQ 705/2019 on the complaint of Muhammad Suliman s/o Sayd Waris. As per the FIR, the complaint is regarding “broaden hate speech and fake information against government institutions of Pakistan as well as Pakistan Army”. Application was submitted to District and Sessions judge Peshawar to get an order for Facebook and Twitter to issue IP logs. However as per the details mentioned in the FIR, FIA only found through their “reliable sources” that the disputed social media accounts were being used by Akhtar Khan on which basis they obtained a search warrant from JMIC Peshawar and raided his premises.|
|35||07 January 2020||PECA, PPC||Peshawar: FIR 01/2020 under sections 10, 11 of PECA read with section 109 PPC registered against Hassan Nasir in enquiry no. ENQ 29/2020 on the complaint of Amjid Iqbal, Muhammad Iftikhar and Aftab Khan. As per the FIR, the complaint is regarding “broaden hate speech and fake information against government institutions of Pakistan as well as Pakistan Army”. Application was submitted to District and Sessions judge Peshawar to get an order for Facebook to issue IP logs. However as per the details mentioned in the FIR, FIA only found through their “reliable sources” that the disputed Facebook account was being used by Hassan Nasir on which basis they obtained a search warrant from JMIC Peshawar and raided his premises.|