The National Assembly passed an amendment yesterday titled the Criminal Law Act which criminalizes anything that might be considered as ridiculing, disreputing, or defaming the Pakistan Army. The act comes after the report on the retired Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa by journalist Ahmed Noorani which was labelled “fake news” with Noorani receiving multiple death threats and being the target of many defamatory remarks. Under the new act such a report might face even worse repercussions.
National Assembly passes amendment Criminal Law Act 2020
“Whosoever intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the Armed Forces of Pakistan or a member thereof, he shall be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to five hundred thousand rupees, or with both,” reads the bill.
The Criminal Law Act goes on to state, “The purpose of this amendment is to prevent hatred and disrespectful behavior against the Armed Forces. Strict action should be taken against those bringing disrepute to the Armed Forces institution in accordance with the law.”
Earlier this year, the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Rules made it so that online content on social media can be reported and taken down if it is deemed to go against the “religious, cultural, ethnic and national security sensitivities of Pakistan.”