Ridiculous idea, says Fawad after NA passes bill to criminalise criticism of army

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has asserted that it was a ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism, a day after the National Assembly passed a bill aiming to penalise the intentional ridiculing and defaming of the armed forces.

The minister replied to a Tweet of senior journalist Mazhar Abbas who, while apparently commenting on the bill, wrote that citizens were free to criticise the parliament, politicians and media but the “rest is national interest”.

“Absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism; respect is earned, cannot be imposed on people,” Fawad said adding that he strongly felt that instead of introducing new laws, the laws dealing with contempt of court should be repealed.

Earlier on Wednesday, the NA Standing Committee on Interior approved the bill to make amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to penalise the intentional ridiculing and defaming of the armed forces.

According to the bill, critics of the Pakistan armed forces now face two years in jail and fines worth up to Rs500, 000. The bill, titled Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2020 and introduced by PTI MNA Amjid Ali Khan, was approved by the NA committee.

The bill proposes an amendment to Section 500 of the PPC, which currently 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.”