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#ArrestAntiPakJournalists Becomes Top Twitter Trend In Pakistan

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A hashtag demanding arrests of ‘Anti Pakistan’ journalists topped Twitter trends on Thursday. Although it trended for a very brief amount of time, it does raise concerns regarding freedom of expression and dissenting voices in the country.

Dawn reports that the trend in question was associated with almost 28,000 accounts. It is pertinent mentioning here that many of those using the hash-tag #ArrestAntiPakJournalists posted pictures of famous journalists who are vocal critics of the incumbent government and Prime Minister Imran Khan in particular.

The tweets abused and hurled accusations at the journalists they didn’t apparently like. Some of them even went on to attacking them personally.

Tweets with the said hashtag were rather critical of an imaginary network between corrupt individuals and certain media persons. Journalists, on the other hand, replied raising much more pertinent questions.

One of the tweets mentioned that ‘hostile agencies are funding journalists to promote anti-Pakistan and anti-army narrative’. The said tweet was posted with a number of pictures of famous journalists.

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Dawn quotes Shahzad Ahmed, of digital rights group Bytes for All, saying the hashtag appeared to have been “planted” by pro-PTI accounts and was not “genuine public opinion”.

“There are organized groups who start such trends… which is a very dangerous phenomenon in our country, regarding freedom of expression and personal freedom,” Ahmed told AFP.

“Responsible use of social media is now becoming impossible in our country. Now we use social media, only to abuse others and to promote fake news and to disrespect each other, which is completely wrong.” Ahmed added.

Organized hashtag campaigns have been launched previously as well for political agendas by various political parties.

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