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Pak Senate passes amendment bill to widen scope of Army Act – Times of India


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament passed on Thursday a bill to amend the Pakistan Army Act of 1952,seeking action against anyone who discloses sensitive information pertaining to the security of the country or the army.

The legislation apparently aims to tighten the noose around the necks of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers and politicians accused of attacks on military assets and properties following the arrest of their party chief, former prime minister Imran Khan, over graft allegations on May 9 this year.
The bill was tabled in the Senate by defence minister Khawaja Asif as the outgoing PM Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government has been trying its best to arrest and disqualify Imran Khan before the next general election.

The proposed amendment, observers believe, was an attempt to try Imran under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 after his former principal secretary, Azam Khan,who had gone missing for some time, allegedly accused his former boss ofusing US cablesto create a false narrative against the military establishment and the then opposition.
The diplomatic cable was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Asad Majeed’s meeting with US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu, which, according to Imran, was a conspiracy hatched to topple his government.
According to the proposed bill,anyperson who makes unauthorised disclosure of information obtained in an official capacity for the security and benefit of Pakistan will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for up to five years. “Any disclosure made after seeking prior approval from thechief of armystaff, or any officer duly empowered by him, in the manner prescribed, shall not be deemed as unauthorised disclosure,” it read.
It stated that anyone who discloses information against the interests of the country and the Pakistan army will be dealt with under the Official Secrets Act and the Army Act.
Furthermore, a person subject to the ArmyAct shall not participate in any political activity until two years after his retirement, resignation, or dismissal from service. Nor would it be permissible for a person posted on sensitive duty to engage in political activity for five years following his/her service.
The bill stated that action will be taken against those involved in defamation of the military and that they will be punished under the Prevention of Electronic CrimesAct, or relevant electronic, digital and social media laws.
“A person who is or has been subject to thisact intentionally ridicules, scandalises, brings into hatred or otherwise attempts to lower the forces of Pakistan or any part thereof in the estimation of others shall, on conviction by a court constituted under thisact, in the prescribed manner, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or a fine of up to Pakistani Rs 500,000 (approximately $1,800), or with both,” the bill says.



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