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Soon Pakistani Army critics can face jail term, fine Pakistan Army
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Soon Pakistani Army critics can face jail term, fine

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 17 Apr 2021, 09:01 pm

Islamabad: Criticising the Pakistan Army will soon become a tough thing for people in Pakistan as the government is aiming to implement a law on the issue.

A new law in Pakistan is set to ban criticism of the army, and those found guilty will face fines up to PKR 500,000 ($3,270) and a possible two years behind bars, reports Zenger.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2020, passed by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior, will see critics of the armed forces tried in civil courts under Section 500A of the Pakistan Penal Code, the news portal reported.

Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s minister of science and technology, reacted to the move and tweeted: "Absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism, respect is earned, cannot be imposed on people, I strongly feel instead of new such laws Contempt of Court laws should be repealed."

Some experts believe the Bill is an attempt by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to muster the military’s support when it is under pressure from opposition parties and facing large-scale discontent from the masses after two-and-a-half years of economic crises.

Ayesha Siddiqa, political scientist and author of “Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy”, called the passage of a law to criminalize criticism of the army “sinister”.

“Despite the existing silencing of dissent, the latest move will further enhance censorship in the country,” she told Zenger News. “It’s a constant struggle, so the push will continue. I don’t see [censorship] going away.”

Siddiqa believes that while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s interests are protected by the move to silence critique of the army, the military leadership is also backing the law.

“I hope the Opposition pushes back in the Senate. But if they don’t, it will be disastrous. Though it’s worth inquiring how did it [the law] pass in the standing committee where all parties are present,” she said, underlining that opposition parties are covertly working with the military establishment keeping the 2023 general elections in mind.