Social media crackdown stifles dissent in Pakistan
When Zafar Achakzai, a journalist in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan, heard a loud, insistent knocking on his door just before sunrise on June 25, he did not quite know what to expect.
When he answered, he was met by about a dozen armed men, some in Pakistani paramilitary uniforms.
"They ordered me to come with them," the 21-year-old reporter told Al Jazeera by telephone. "When we were some distance from my home, they blindfolded me, and then I was held at some unknown place."For hours, he remained in the dark. Eventually, men came to ask him questions, to confirm his identity and take down details about his work. It was then that he asked them why he had been taken. "I was told that I use Facebook quite a lot. That is all that they said." Achakzai was held without charge and interrogated repeatedly over the next three days. His interrogators, who refused to identify themselves, only said that they were concerned about several Facebook posts he had made that were critical of Pakistan's powerful military. http://widgetcon.com They specifically identified three posts that were critical of the Frontier Corps paramilitary force, which controls much of the law and order in Balochistan, where an armed separatist movement and increasing Taliban-linked violence has raged for over a decade. "I responded by saying that the posts you are talking about come under my right to freedom of expression," he told Al Jazeera. "They said, 'don't talk about rights here'." He was released shortly after he was informed that an official case under the cybercrime act had been filed against him. Achakzai's abduction came soon after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) issued dozens of summons to people across Pakistan asking them to explain their social media activity and charging them with posting material that was against the national interest. Those targeted included political and social activists, as well as at least one other journalist.