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PTI Lawmaker Seeks Penalties for Ridiculing Armed Forces

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Proposed amendments pursue up to two years’ imprisonment, fines of up to Rs. 500,000 for ‘offense’

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan on Tuesday submitted in Parliament the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2020, seeking to penalize anyone found to be “intentionally” ridiculing members of the country’s armed forces.

The proposed legislation seeks the insertion of a section 500A in the Pakistan Penal Code as follows: “Whosoever intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the Armed Forces of Pakistan or a member thereof, he shall be guilty of an offense punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to Rs. 500,000, or with both.”

It similarly seeks the insertion of relevant clauses to the Code of Criminal Procedure for the same goal.

“The purpose of this amendment is to prevent hatred and disrespectful behavior against the Armed Forces,” according to lawmaker Khan’s submission. “Strict action should be taken against those bringing disrepute to the Armed Forces institution in accordance with the law,” it adds.

Critics have said this legislation violates Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guarantees freedom of speech to every citizen and the press.

Anti-terrorism legislation

Separately, the National Assembly passed the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill 2020, which seeks to use new techniques to investigate terrorism and its financing.

Moved by the PTI’s Faheem Khan, the legislation is part of the package the government hopes to make into law to prevent Pakistan from being placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s black list.

Under the bill, an investigation officer would have 60 days to use certain techniques, including tracking communications and monitoring computer activity of suspects, to ascertain the origins of money used to fund terrorist activity. It further allows for an extension of up to 60 days through a written request to court.

The bill stated that terror funding was a major obstacle to Pakistan’s development and termed it a source of disgrace. Terrorism funding was benefiting those elements that posed threats to internal and external peace of the country and its allies, it added. “The main purpose of introducing this bill is to enable law enforcement agencies to eradicate these curses by adopting certain preventive techniques with the empowered assistance of the courts of law,” it reads.

The House also debated the Lahore motorway gang-rape, with legislators demanding harsh punishments for the culprits. Differing from most of the incumbent government’s lawmakers, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry said public hanging of rapists was not the solution and advised strengthening the judiciary to boost conviction rates.

Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of the Jamaat-e-Islami, meanwhile, questioned how chemical or physical castration of rapists—as advocated by Prime Minister Imran Khan—would punish any woman who raped a man. He urged Islamic punishment for the culprits and Islamic courts at district levels.

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