ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Army Act, which is used to put armed forces personnel on trial under the military’s own legal code and after sailing through NA, and Senate, President Alvi approves the controversial bill, and now the law is also applicable to civilians.
The former government moved legislation to take action against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, and supporters involved in attacking civil, and military installations.
In the latest development, President Dr Arif Alvi gave his assent to the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and Pakistan Army Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023 bill, as the former government quietly got bills passed to grant blanket powers to intelligence agencies, which were allowed to conduct raid and detain any person.
The recent development comes as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former premier Imran Khan has been booked under Official Secrets Act in the cipher case.
The amendments in the secrets act have broadened the powers of intelligence agencies and was opposed by the rival parties and PPP leader Raza Rabbani, who said that he could not support any such laws.
The bill recommends up to a two-year jail sentence and fine for those involved in defaming the military, adding that those using electronic channels for this purpose would be tried under electronic crime.
“If any person, who is or has been subject to this Act, discloses or causes to be disclosed any information, acquired in an official capacity, which is or may be prejudicial to the security and interest of Pakistan or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, shall be guilty of an offence, and on conviction by the court constituted under this Act, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years," read the amendment bill
It however stated that a person disclosing such information at the note of the army chief or an authorised officer will not be punished.
"Any disclosure made after seeking prior approval from the Chief of the Army Staff, or any officer duly empowered by him, in the manner prescribed, shall not be deemed as unauthorised disclosure," it added.
It also seeks to bar persons subject to this act from taking part in political activity for two years from the date of their retirement, release, resignation, discharge, removal or dismissal from the service, whereas those "employed, seconded, tasked or otherwise attached" to "sensitive" duties under the act will be barred from political activities for five years after they leave their posts.
"Whoever violates [these conditions] on conviction by the court constituted under this Act, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which may extend to two years”.
It further states that action will be taken against those involved in defaming he military and they will be punished under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (Act XL of 2016) or relevant electronic, digital and social media laws.
"A personnel who is or has been subject to this Act intentionally ridicules, scandalizes, brings into hatred or otherwise attempts to lower the Armed Forces of Pakistan or any part thereof in the estimation of others shall, on conviction by a court constituted under this Act, in the prescribed manner, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or fine or with both," it added.
Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar in the open market on March 1, 2024 (Friday).
In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.32 for buying and 282.35 for selling.
Euro currently stands at 302 for buying and 305 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 353 for buying, and 356 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76.15 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.4.
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