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April 8, 2021

NA panel passes amendment bill

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April 8, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Critics of the Pakistan armed forces now face two years in jail as well as fines worth up to Rs500,000, as per a new criminal law amendment bill passed Wednesday by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior.

Submitted by PTI lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan, the bill was approved by a majority. The chairperson of the standing committee, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, broke the 5-5 vote tie by voting in favour of the proposed bill.

PPP leader Syed Agha Rafiullah, as well as the PML-N's Marriyum Aurangzeb and Chaudhry Nadeem Abbas Rebaira, argued against the bill, saying it would be used against freedom of expression in Pakistan.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has voted against the bill even though the remaining three provinces were yet to express their views on it, they argued. "It is against our own institutions [and] we stand strong with our institutions.

"However, criticism in good faith should not be misunderstood. Why are they being made sacred cows," they argued further.

Under the criminal law amendment bill, Pakistan's armed forces and their personnel would be free from any deliberate ridicule, insult, and defamation. Those who do so would be punishable under Section 500A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), with punishment including jail time of two years, a fine of up to Rs500,000 or both.

Furthermore, critics of the Pakistani armed forces would face trial in a civil court, according to the criminal law amendment bill.