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Pakistani province wants three-month ban on Skype, other services
Publication Date : 04-10-2013
The Sindh government has decided to impose a three-month ban on the use of instant messaging and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications, including Skype, Tango, WhatsApp and Viber, to make security operations effective and to smash terrorist works.
Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon told journalists that the decision had been taken at a meeting of the law and order committee which was held at the CM House on Thursday and presided over by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
Attended by inspector general of Sindh police, director general of Rangers, chiefs of intelligence agencies and senior officials, the meeting reviewed progress of the ongoing operation against criminal elements in Karachi. It decided to expand its scope to Hyderabad and other cities of Sindh from Friday.
But the announcement of the decision about the ban triggered instant criticism from various quarters and the social media and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan immediately issued a statement in Islamabad saying that the federal government and his ministry had not taken such a decision.
He said he was personally against such a ban. “Soon after taking charge of the interior ministry I have stopped the tradition of blocking mobile networks on certain occasions,” he said, adding that “such steps have never been fruitful”.
Chaudhry Nisar said if a request to ban instant messaging and VoIP applications was received from Sindh, it would be assessed on merit because the federal government did not want to create inconveniences for people.
In Karachi, the Sindh information minister also announced that the provincial government had prepared a code of conduct for collection of hides of sacrificial animals on the occasion of Eidul Azha. Under the code political parties and social organisations will not be allowed to collect hides.
Mr Memon said the provincial government had decided to approach the centre for getting illegal mobile phone SIMs banned which, according to him, could cut the number of cases of kidnapping and extortion by 70 per cent.
He said the government had imposed a ban on display of weapons and launched a drive for recovery of illegal weapons.
Answering a question, he said during the past one month Rangers and police had conducted 3,000 raids and submitted challans against 745 suspects. He said 43 cases under the anti-terrorist act had been initiated. About 1,400 suspects had been detained, 50 of them were wanted in murder cases.
Meanwhile, the interior minister directed the DG Rangers and IG of Sindh police not to disclose political affiliation of any person apprehended during the ongoing operation in Karachi.
“The release of this information is creating a negative impression about the non-political and non-partisan operation being carried out in Karachi,” he said, adding that “it will raise suspicion about the motive of the operation”.
Chaudhry Nisar said justice demanded that law-enforcement personnel must ensure that information obtained during interrogation were not made public or used for a media trial.
Earlier, the interior minister talked to Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on telephone about the ongoing targeted operation in Karachi. They decided to ban all illegal mobile SIMs.
The interior minister praised the role of Sindh police and Rangers in the operation and expressed confidence in the performance of the Sindh government.
The two leaders agreed that the role of intelligence would be strengthened so that the path of criminal elements and terrorists could be blocked.