A critical amendment

A legislative bill to amend the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure is under the spotlight

Legislators in the ruling coalition dispensation are at each other’s throats, as many of them believe that the stringent version of amendment will compromise on fundamental rights

The bill aims to make it a punishable offence, up to five-year imprisonment, whosoever ridicules the Pakistan Army and the judiciary through any medium of propagation

Such moves to amend the law were in the pipeline earlier too, but could not see the light of the day owing to either political exigency or skeletons in the cupboard of people who matter at the helm of affairs

The point is that the Constitution categorically spells out the sacrosanct importance of the armed forces, as well as the judiciary, and that spirit must live on

The bill has become a necessity, of late, especially keeping in view the diatribe and the irresponsibility that sections of the society had shown towards the two pillars of the state

Notwithstanding the substance of the opponents of the amendment, it must be realised that enforcing semblance and respect for national institutions as well as all those who hold public offices is the responsibility of the state and the government, and this aspect should not be politicised

The cabinet committee formed to introspect the amendment has a national responsibility

It must come up with suggestions in all fairness, and legislators must speak their mind in the larger national interest

It remains to be seen, however, whether the application of the law will have retrospective effects or not

This is where the catch-22 situation rests

It is a writing on the wall that almost all political forces had resorted to ridiculing and calling into question the acts of both the national institutions, and this is a bad omen

Thus, opposition to the bill has a background synopsis

The proposed amendment must go ahead in all sincerity by protecting the civil rights of freedom of speech and association, and at the same time come to protect the custodians of the nation at the borders and in legal fiefdoms

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2023

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Date:10-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link