2 years in jail, Rs500,000 fine for mocking Pakistani forces as amendment bill passed

April 07, 2021

PTI lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan had submitted the new amendment bill, which was passed by a majority vote

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(Top) The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior meets for a session in Islamabad, Pakistan. Geo Urdu/Files; (Bottom) The Pakistani armed forces during a parade. Geo.tv/Files

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 AssemblyStanding Committee on Interior.

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

PPP leaderSyed 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 tothe criminal law amendment bill.

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