Before Pakistan elections, Facebook removes accounts of Hafiz Saeed's political-partyLast updated on Jul 15, 2018, 05:19 pm
Facebook, on the backfoot after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, claims to be actively taking steps to ensure fair elections in Pakistan.
On its list of targets is 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed's political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML). Several pages associated with it and its candidates have been removed right before the polls.
Hitting back, MML said Facebook is violating its own policies.
The formation of the MML and its rise
Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawaah (JuD), touted as a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, formed the MML last August to "get (their) message to the grassroots".
MML candidates Yaqoob Sheikh and Liaqat Khan contested by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar and diverted votes from the ruling PML-N.
Saeed had also disclosed his plans to contest the 2018 general elections.
The military has termed such groups a containment-policy for terrorists.
Several setbacks for Saeed's political plans
MML has conducted all activities despite non-recognition by the country's Election Commission. In another setback, the US also designated MML a 'terrorist organization.'
So last month, MML announced it'll contest the July 25 elections with Allaha-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), "a kind of dormant party," which is already registered.
"Such arrangements are made if any mainstream party faces any issue or complication," a JuD member said.
Facebook puts the final nail in the coffin
Now there are more problems for the party. Facebook recently contacted Pakistani authorities and offered help in checking social media misuse during elections.
Company chief Mark Zuckerberg had said it was a priority to ensure Facebook prevents interference in upcoming elections in India, Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere.
In accordance, it has deactivated "numerous accounts of (MML) candidates and workers."
Facebook didn't give any reason, broke own rules: MML
MML spokesperson Tabish Qayyum lashed out, alleging Facebook had removed the accounts "without giving any reason."
"Voters are being attracted by posters and video messages. All political parties are using social media to spread their message," he said.
"Deleting MML candidates and workers' accounts on a particular time is injustice," he added, claiming it violates Facebook's own policy on freedom of expression.