August 28, 2021
ISLAMABAD—A notification by the Establishment Division dated August 25, 2021, has banned all government employees from using social media platforms.
It emphasizes that no government servant can have a presence on any media platform except with the permission of the competent authority.
The notification gives comprehensive instructions to government employees under Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964, governing participation of government servants in different media forums, including social media platforms for compliance.
“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.”
Referring to Rule 22 of the Servant Rules, it restrains a government servant from making any statement of fact or opinion which is capable of embarrassing the government in any document published or in any communication made to the press or in any public utterance or television program or radio broadcast delivered by him or her.
The notification added that Rules 21, 25, 25-A, and 25-B of the Rules barred a government servant from expressing views against the ideology and integrity of Pakistan or any government policy or decision.
It also bars a government servant from offering views on any media platform which may either harm the national security or friendly relations with foreign states, or offend public order, decency or morality, or amount to contempt of court or defamation or incitement to an offense or propagate sectarian creeds.
The notification noted that the government servants often engaged themselves with social media such as websites and applications that enabled users to create and share content or 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.
However, it emphasized that instructions are not intended to discourage any constructive and positive use of social media by a government organization for engaging the people to solicit feedback on a government policy, suggestions for improvement in service delivery, and resolution of their complaints.
But such an organization shall maintain its social media platforms continuously or frequently to remove offensive, inappropriate, and objectionable remarks.
The notification also warned all government servants that violation of one or more of these instructions would be tantamount to misconduct and lead to disciplinary action against the delinquent government servant under Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020.
Besides, it said, disciplinary proceedings would also be held against the serving government servants in case they were administrators of a social media group where any violation had been committed.
Such actions range from unauthorized relaying of the official information to disseminating the wrong or misleading information to the airing of political or sectarian views etc. The Establishment Division has further instructed government servants not to indulge in unauthorized disclosure of official information.
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