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Senate approves Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2023

Army Act amendment bill proposes up to 5 years in jail for disclosing sensitive information

Senate on Thursday with a majority approved a bill to amend the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, seeking stern action against anyone who discloses sensitive information pertaining to the army or seeks to malign the armed forces in any way.

The Army Act Amendment Bill allowed the sentencing of a person for revealing any information related to national security and interest for unauthorized use, which he or she had gathered in an official capacity.

Prescribing a five-year jail term for the crime, the bill says the person revealing any information damaging to Pakistan or the military would be dealt with under the Army Act.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif moved the bill in the upper house titled “Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2023″, which states that those who disclose information against the interests of the country or the Pakistan Army will be dealt with under the Official Secrets Act and the Army Act.

“If any person, who is or has been subject to this Act, discloses or causes to be disclosed any information, acquired in an official capacity, which is or may be prejudicial to the security and interest of Pakistan or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, shall be guilty of an offense, and on conviction by the court constituted under this Act, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years,” the bill reads.

However, it won’t be a crime if the act is committed with the permission of the chief of army staff or an authorized officer/official, the amendment adds.

“Any disclosure made after seeking prior approval from the Chief of the Army Staff, or any officer duly empowered by him, in the manner prescribed, shall not be deemed as unauthorized disclosure,” it added.

Furthermore, the bill sought to bar persons subject to this act from engaging in political activity for two years from the date of their retirement, release, resignation, discharge, removal, or dismissal from the service, whereas those “employed, seconded, tasked or otherwise attached” to “sensitive” duties under the act will be barred from political activities for five years after they leave their posts.

“Whoever violates [these conditions] on conviction by the court constituted under this Act, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which may extend to two years,” the bill stated.

The bill further states that action will be taken against those involved in defamation of the military and they will be punished under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (Act XL of 2016) or relevant electronic, digital, and social media laws.

“A personnel who is or has been subject to this Act intentionally ridicules, scandalizes, brings into hatred or otherwise attempts to lower the Armed Forces of Pakistan or any part thereof in the estimation of others shall, on conviction by a court constituted under this Act, in the prescribed manner, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or fine or with both.”

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani lodges ‘protest’

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Mian Raza Rabbani staged a walkout from the upper house, terming the approval of multiple bills in a day as “blind legislation”.

Raza Rabbani said that the manner in which the bills were passed today is a “dark day” and added that these are very important bills but the members got these today.

Regarding the bill related to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the PPP senator said it is illegal and its purpose is to roll back the 18th amendment; Senator Rabbani said this bill had to be approved by the Council of Common Interest.

At this, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani said the HEC bill is not being presented today.

Later, Raza Rabbani announced to boycott the Senate session while other PPP lawmakers were present in the house.




Saman Siddiqui

Saman Siddiqui, A freelance journalist with a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and MS in Peace and Conflict Studies. Associated with the media industry since 2006. Experience in various capacities including Program Host, Researcher, News Producer, Documentary Making, Voice Over, Content Writing Copy Editing, and Blogging, and currently associated with OyeYeah since 2018, working as an Editor.

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