ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry thinks that it’s absolutely ridiculous to criminalise criticism of the Pakistan army.
In a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry said: “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is earned, cannot be imposed on people, I strongly feel instead of new such laws Contempt of Court laws should be repealed ….”
These remarks were made in the aftermath of a controversial bill which was passed in the National Assembly that criminalised any criticism of the armed forces with a 500,000 PKR fine and/or a 2 year jail sentence.
Chaudhry did not directly reference the controversial bill in his tweet but his remarks came retweet with comment on an earlier tweet by senior journalist Mazhar Abbas who, while apparently commenting on the bill passed by the NA committee, wrote that citizens were free to criticise the parliament, politicians and media but the “rest is national interest”.
“Absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism; respect is earned, cannot be imposed on people,” Chaudhry wrote.
The bill, titled Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2020 and introduced by PTI MNA Amjid Ali Khan, was approved by the NA committee during its meeting chaired by MNA Raja Khurram Nawaz.
The bill proposes an amendment to Section 500 of the PPC, which currently states: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
The amendment, which will be called Section 500-A, states: “Punishment for intentional ridiculing of the Armed Forces etc. 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 fine which may extend to five hundred thousand rupees, or with both.”
Both PML-N and PPP opposed the bill.