A committee of the National Assembly of Pakistan on Wednesday passed a law that would punish those who deliberately mock or insult the Pakistani military.
Under the law, anyone who commits the crime will be sentenced to two years in prison or a fine of five lakh rupees, or both. Many politicians, activists and journalists in Pakistan have called the law a ban on freedom of expression and say it should not be enforced.
The law was introduced by Amjad Ali Khan, a politician from the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party, and despite opposition from opposition politicians on the Interior Committee, a majority of members approved the deal.
According to Pakistan’s constitution, the agreement will now be presented to the country’s National Assembly.
If the bill is passed in the National Assembly, it will go to the Senate, after which it will be formally signed into law by the President of Pakistan.
In addition to opposition politicians, Fawad Chaudhry, a minister in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, also condemned the proposed law, adding that criticism of the military should not be considered a crime.
Pakistani Dawn News journalist Wasim Sajjad says: “Such sanctions have no basis and are a violation of freedom of expression. The people should respect the army but blocking and punishing their criticism can lead to chaos.
Threats to freedom of expression have intensified in Pakistan over the past few years, making life difficult for those who call themselves pro-democracy or criticize the country’s military and intelligence.
Recently, several political parties have also criticized the country’s military, accusing it of fraudulently bringing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party to power.
But the Pashtun Salvation Movement has been the most vocal critic of Pakistan’s military and intelligence.
One of the biggest and most popular slogans of the Yadav movement is that “the army is behind terrorism” in Pakistan.
“Under the pretext of fighting terrorism in the tribal areas, the Pakistani military has only tortured locals, planted landmines there, made locals disappear and harassed civilians at checkpoints every day,” the movement’s leaders said.
But the Pakistani military has denied the movement’s allegations, even accusing it of using foreign intelligence to carry out anti-Pakistan activities.