‘Absolutely ridiculous thought,’ says Fawad Chaudhry on criminalisation of criticism

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In what seems to be a reference to a newly proposed modification to a invoice that criminalises criticism of Pakistan’s armed forces, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday stated criminalising criticism is an “absolutely ridiculous idea”.

Although Chaudhry, in his put up on Twitter, doesn’t identify the invoice, his remarks come a day after it was accredited by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior.

Under the proposed modification, critics of the Pakistan armed forces will face two years in jail in addition to fines price as much as Rs500,000.

Submitted by PTI lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan, the invoice was accredited by a majority. The chairperson of the standing committee, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, broke the 5-5 vote tie by voting in favour of the proposed invoice.

Chaudhry’s tweet at present got here in response to a put up by senior journalist Mazhar Abbas who wrote that whereas a citizen in Pakistan is free to criticise democracy, free to criticise Parliament, free to criticise politicians, and free to criticise media, the remaining is chalked as much as “national interest”.

The minister, in response, wrote: “Absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism, respect is earned, cannot be imposed on people. I strongly feel instead of [such new] laws, Contempt of Court laws should be repealed.”

Later, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari backed Fawad Chaudhry’s views.

“Totally agree. Cannot state it strongly enough,” she wrote.

The invoice, titled Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2020, presently states: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

According to the proposed modification, which is able to fall underneath Section 500-A of the Pakistan Penal Code: “Whosoever intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the Armed Forces of Pakistan or a member thereof, he shall be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or fine which may extend to five hundred thousand rupees, or with both.”

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