The government has banned all government workers from accessing social media sites, purportedly to prevent the leak of official information and records.
According to a notice issued by the Establishment Division on August 25, no govt employee may engage in any media platform without the government’s permission.
According to the notification, the instructions are not intended to discourage a government organisation from using social media in a constructive and positive way to engage the public in getting feedbacks on a government policy, suggestions for improving service delivery, and resolution of complaints. But such an organisation shall maintain their social media platforms continuously or frequently to remove offensive, inappropriate and objectionable remarks.
The notification provided comprehensive instructions to government workers for compliance with the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which regulate government servants’ involvement in various media venues, including social media platforms.
“Rule 18 of the Rules bars a government servant from sharing official information or document with a government servant or a private person or press,” the notification added.
According to Rule 22 of the Servant Rules, a govt servant is prohibited from making any statement of fact or opinion in any document published, in any communication to the press, or in any public utterance, television programme, or radio broadcast delivered by him or her that is capable of embarrassing the govt.
The notice warned all government employees that breaking one or more of these rules would be deemed misconduct and would result in disciplinary action being taken against the offender under the Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020. Furthermore, it said that disciplinary action would be taken against serving government employees if they were administrators of a social media group where a violation had occurred.
Rules 21, 25, 25-A, and 25-B of the Rules, according to the notice, prohibit a government employee from expressing ideas contrary to Pakistan’s ideology and integrity, as well as any government policy or decision.
A govt employee is also prohibited from expressing opinions on any media platform that could jeopardise national security or friendly relations with overseas nations, or contravene public order, decency, or morality, or comprise contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to commit an offence, or propagate sectarian creeds.
The notice said that govt employees often used social media, such as websites and apps that allowed users to produce and share information, as well as participate in social networking/virtual communities/online groups.
“They, while using different social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microblogging etc, to air their views on a host of subjects and sometimes indulge in actions or behaviour that does not conform to the required standards of official conduct, as envisaged in the Rules,” the notification added.
Such acts include unauthorised relaying of official information, disseminating untrue material, and airing political or sectarian views, among others. The Establishment Division has also warned govt employees against disclosing official information without permission.