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Business Recorder

Published Date: Nov 29, 2013

There’s no law to deal with cyber crimes: Ahsan

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday
said there is no law in Pakistan to deal with cyber crimes. This he
stated while addressing the International Conference on ‘Alternative
Media in Pakistan-Opportunities and Challenges’ jointly organised by
Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) and Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with support of the German Foreign
Office.

The minister further said traditional media has lost its
importance nowadays and alternative media has given authoritative power
to general public by empowering them to raise their issues on main
stream media. Ahsan Iqbal said that alternative media can be used as a
development tool by disseminating policies of government and creating
awareness among general public. Focusing on the issue, he stressed that
70 percent of the population of Pakistan has informal access to this
source, but do not make any productive use of this information.

I R Rehman, Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
said internet and social media have become increasingly important in any
political or social activity. They are important to human rights
defenders everywhere. But the use of these new technologies to assert
old freedoms has been met with repression. On the other hand, mainstream
media does not strive much to assist the public in development
programme.

Zahid Abdullah, Right to Information Activist highlighted the
potential of social media in developing a broad understanding of the
rights of disabled people in Pakistan. According to World Health
Organisation (WHO), disabled represent the largest minority in the
Pakistani population. Both public and private institutions to assist
persons with disabilities should use new forms of media to convey their
stories and messages. He suggested "screen reading software" for
disabled persons to make their access easy to internet.

Samar Minallah, filmmaker, spoke about the importance of
documentaries as a mode of alternative media. "Documentaries are the
artistic representation of reality, which raise awareness and suggest
actions", she said.

Asma Shairazi anchor and journalist said that alternative media
can be the substitute of mainstream media, in case of non-existence or
prohibition by the state. Unlike mainstream media, forms of alternative
media are not under pressure from business interests or those who
command public opinion.

Professor Dr Shahjehan Syed from University of Peshawar
discussed that alternative media is being used to build the capacity
building of the journalists in remote and conflict effected areas of
Tribal Area, with a vision of "Conflict Sensitive Journalism."

Nico Prucha, University of Vienna, Austria said that extremist
actors are innovative in using and exploiting this new medium of our
times. The impact of this comprising propaganda material, that indeed
addresses legitimate claims and grievances, is changing the perception
of Islam, especially in western countries.

While sharing the recommendations, Dr Abid Suleri, Executive
Director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute suggested that the
freedom of expression needs to be reinstated in truest form by the
government and let globalisation carve its own path without being
manipulated by invisible hands.