Freedom of expression: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rejects any bid to further gag fundamental right

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rejects any attempts to further gag the fundamental right of freedom of expression in the name of preventing defamation and disrespect of the armed forces.

Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) Secretary General Farhatullah Babar in a statement on Wednesday expressed grave concern over a bill moved by a PTI MNA and approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior seeking to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to send anyone to jail for two years with fine Rs 500,000 or both for what has been described as ‘defamation of the army”.

He said Section 500 of the PPC already provides punishment for the defamation of anyone, and the addition of Section 500-A is aimed only at gagging freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution in name of national security. It is not acceptable and will be opposed at every platform he said.

The nation has witnessed enough of how behind the façade of ‘national security’ citizens have disappeared mysteriously, national resources diverted, internment centers set up, ex tribal areas made a no go area, foreign and security policies hijacked and security establishment’s business and commercial empire expanded exponentially.

Section 500-A is liable to be grossly misused in the name of national security as Section 295-C has been misused in the name of religion, he said.

Defence forces working within their constitutional limits are universally admired and do not need any legislation to protect their honor and respect. Similarly no legislation can stop people from questioning those who transgress their limits with impunity, he said.

When contacted, Secretary General of the PPP-P Farhatullah Babar said that the PPP would call up other political parties to enact legislation to bring intelligence agencies under the ambit of law instead of legislating to stifle dissent of fundamental of expression.

Answering a question, he said that the PPP would contact with other political parties to oppose the bill when it would move in the house for passage. He said that the PPP would also strongly oppose the bill if it would be moved in the Upper House of the Parliament (Senate).

Newspaper: Business Recorder