Man gets three-year jail term for spear campaign against army

A Faisalabad district and sessions court on Thursday sent a man — identified as Sikandar Zaman — to three years in prison for being involved in a smear campaign against the armed forces.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had taken the person into custody in 2022. Zaman's activities on Twitter show that he was apparently a supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The probe authority had nabbed Zaman after a case was lodged against him under two Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 sections — 20 (malicious code) and 24(c) (legal recognition of offences committed in relation to information system). Two sections — 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) — of the Pakistan Penal Code were also added to the case.

Under PECA Section 20, the court awarded the man a one-year sentence and slapped a fine worth Rs100,000 on him. In case he fails to pay the fine, the convict will further serve a sentence of three months.

For the punishment under PECA Section 24(c), the district and sessions court slapped him with a fine of Rs100,000 and sentenced him to a year in jail. In case he fails to pay the fine, Zaman will further serve a sentence of three months.

Under PPC Section 500, Zaman has been sentenced to a year in prison with a fine of Rs10,000 and in case he fails to pay the fine, then he will serve a further sentence of 15 days.

Moreover, the court also sentence him to three years in prison under the PCC Section 505 and slapped a fine of Rs50,000 on him. If he fails to pay the amount, then he will serve a prison time of 45 more days.

However, all the sentences — one year, one year, one year, and three years — will run concurrently.

"His surety stands discharged from the liability of bail bond. The mobile phone recovered during the raid from the convict be confiscated in favour of the state," the order stated.

In response, PTI leader Azhar Mashwani said that the Insaf Lawyers Forum was trying to contact Zaman's family. "...the decision will be challenged and sentence will be suspended."

In August last year, a social media campaign had started against the armed forces, prompting the government to task the FIA with cracking down on those involved in the smear campaign.

Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar, then-director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had termed the campaign "false propaganda and insensitive".

The campaign had begun after an army chopper on August 1, 2022, crashed in Balochistan's Lasblea, leaving six military officials martyred, including a corps commander.

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