Pak Army Amend Bill 2023 sails through NA

ISLAMABAD  -  The National Assembly yesterday passed the Pakistan Army (Amend­ment) Bill, 2023 that seeks up to five years in jail for anyone who disclos­es sensitive information pertaining to security of the country or the Pa­kistan Army.

The bill, moved by Minister of Law Azam Nazeer Tatar, incorpo­rating different sections enhanced the scope of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. The bill has already been passed in Upper House of the Par­liament. The house passed the Paki­stan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023 ignoring the routine parliamentary practices and without sending it to the standing committee concerned. 

The bill proposes that “anyone who discloses or causes to be dis­closed any information, acquired in official capacity, which is or may be prejudicial to the security and inter­est of Pakistan or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, shall be … punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years”.

However, if someone does so “af­ter seeking prior approval from the chief of army staff (COAS), or any officer duly empowered by him,…” then it shall not be deemed as an “unauthorised disclosure”. 

The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023 “forbids any person sub­ject to the Army Act from engaging in any kind of political activity for two years from the date of his “re­tirement, release, resignation, dis­charge, removal or dismissal from the service”. 

It says that those who have re­mained posted, employed, or at­tached on sensitive duties are for­bidden from taking part in “political activity of any kind, during a period of five years from the date of their retirement, resignation, discharge, removal or dismissal from the ser­vice. According to the bill, anyone who violates the conditions, upon his conviction by the court consti­tuted under the Army Act, will be punished with “rigorous imprison­ment for a term which may extend to two years”. 

The bill prohibits any person linked with the Pakistan Army in the past five years from directly or in­directly entering into employment, consultation or other engagement with an entity having conflict of in­terest with the activities of the Paki­stan Army or its affiliates.

However, the law does not apply to those who seek prior approval from the COAS for the above. A person guilty of the said offence can be im­prisoned for up to “two years with fine not exceeding Rs500,000 or with both”, the bill states.

Another amendment in the Act states that the Pakistan Army may, in the manner as may be prescribed through its affiliated entities, carry out activities that relate to welfare and rehabilitation of serving and re­tired personnel of Pakistan Army, wounded personnel, as well as fami­lies of Shuhada (martyrs).

Earlier, the house offered fateha for those killed in the Bajaur terror­ist attack. The chair also expressed deep grief and sorrow with the JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and JUI-F’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Maulana Asad Mehmood over the loss of precious lives of their workers in the blast. He also urged the government to take necessary steps to bring the culprits involved in this incident to the book. The MNAs from treasury benches called for exposing the elements be­hind the incidents of terrorism, tak­ing place in Pakistan.

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