ISLAMABAD (Pakistan): In a self-defeating move on Wednesday, the parliament in this country passed a law punishing critics of the Pakistani armed forces with two years in jail and a fine up to PKR 500,000. The bill was passed by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior.
The bill was moved by PTI lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan and was approved by a majority. The committee’s chairperson Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz broke the 5-5 vote tie by voting in favour of the bill.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Syed Agha Rafiullah and the PML-N in Mariyam Aurangzeb and Nadeem Rebaira argued against the bill, saying it would be used against freedom of expression. “Criticism in good faith should not be misunderstood. Why are they being made sacred cows,” they argued. The criminal law amendment bill determines that Pakistan’s armed forces and their personnel will be free from deliberate ridicule, insult and defamation.