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Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pixabay

Islamabad: The first meeting of the newly formed national social media coordination working group was held in Islamabad to discuss coherent engagement with the social media companies.

The working group was recently formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan for internal coordination on social media usage and policies, provide input to the Pakistan government on social media related issues and engage with international social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter.

National Security Advisor Dr Moeed Yusuf chaired the first meeting of the coordination working group. “The main purpose of the group is to have seamless coordination with all relevant ministries and stakeholders and incorporate their input,” he said. Dr Moeed emphasised on data-driven policy-making in accordance with international best practices while keeping Pakistani sensitivities in mind.

The Working Group consists of the Ministry of Information and Technology as the lead ministry, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Digital Media Wing as permanent members while chair of NSMWG can include any other ministry, department or think-tank as a co-opted member as required.

Talking to Gulf News, Dr Arslan Khalid, focal person to PM on digital media, who is also the spokesperson of the working group, said the group would serve as the core organisation to deal with all social media related issues and “bring all the relevant government stakeholders on one platform for better result-oriented engagement with the social media companies.”

The national social media coordination working group will act as a body to coordinate structured engagement with social media companies and is expected to make policy and legislative recommendations to encourage investments of social media companies in Pakistan in compliance with government policies, according to the official statement.

The next meeting will include representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to share information about the taxation policies regarding social media companies.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) regulates online content in Pakistan. The organisation recently said that the regulation was becoming difficult as all popular social media platforms are based outside the country. Pakistan, a country of 220-million people with a significantly young and tech-savvy population, is a big social media market. “We want to see this market grow for the benefit of all but social media companies should also respect our laws,” says PTA chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa. Pakistan is creating a facilitating environment to encourage social media companies to set up their offices in the country, officials said.