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.