Gilgit-Baltistan Police has reportedly blocked 141 social media accounts over anti-religious and anti-state publications. Five people are facing legal charges for violating the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 over “spreading religious hatred and posting anti-state content online”.
DOWN reports that Special Branch Additional Inspector General (AIG) Hanifullah admitted that social media accounts are being monitored for anti-state content and the spreading of “religious hatred”. Despite the clear violation of freedom of expression, the AIG announced that the social media monitoring by police will proceed and will even be enhanced with “modern facilities as well as additional manpower”.
Gilgit-Baltistan is an administrative territory in Pakistan, which is part of the disputed Kashmir region. The population is predominantly Muslim, with a Shia majority. However, it is characterised by “diversified cultures, ethnic groups, languages and backgrounds”.
According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net report for the year 2017, Gilgit-Baltistan suffered governmental breaches of their freedom of speech in the past. Cellular services in Sindh province, the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, were temporarily blocked in November 2016, under the direction of the Interior Ministry. It was reported to be ordered “on the strong recommendation of intelligence agencies and PTA”.