The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior has approved a proposed law that sought two years jail term and Rs5 lakh fine for anyone found guilty of “defaming or ridiculing” the Pakistan Army or its personnel.
According to senior journalist Aizaz Chaudhry, the proposed bill was opposed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
PPP’s Syed Agha Rafiullah and PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb objections to the proposed law, saying it contradicted Article 19 that pertains to the freedom of expression. They said the said law was also “against the institutions in question”. “They also raised that the why this amendment in law in presence of other laws after 150 years,” the journalist quoted the two lawmakers as saying.
PML-N MNA Nadeem Abbas said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has already objected to the bill, whereas Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan didn’t vote in its favour as well, the senior journalist wrote.
However, the bill was approved after the chairman of the committee, Raja Khurram Nawaz, endorsed it to break the stalemate.
In September last year, the bill was tabled in the National Assembly as a private member’s bill. It had proposed changes to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.
According to the draft, anyone who “intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the armed forces of Pakistan or a member thereof” will be liable to “imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine up to Rs500,000 or both”.
“The purpose of this amendment is to prevent hatred and disrespectful behaviour against the Armed Forces,” said the bill, presented by Amjad Ali Khan, chairman of parliament’s standing committee on defence.