President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday said that he did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 and Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as he disagreed with these laws.
On Saturday, it was reported that the president had assented to the two amendment bills after their approval from the previous National Assembly as well as the Senate.
On Sunday, President Alvi took to X (formerly Twitter) and posted that he did not sign the bills, as he “disagreed” with them. He said he had asked his staff to return the bills unsigned within the stipulated time to make them ineffective.
However, he claimed, his staff undermined his command and never returned the bills, after which they automatically became laws.
“As Allah knows all, He will forgive IA. But I ask forgiveness from those who will be effected,” he tweeted.
As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws. I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that…
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) August 20, 2023
Responding to the president’s denial, former finance minister Ishaq Dar says “minimum morality” warrants Dr Alvi to resign for failing to run his office effectively.
“Unbelievable —minimum morality warrants Alvi Sb to resign, having failed to run his office effectively, efficiently and as per Rules of Business — official work is conducted on files and implementation ensured — such statements only indicate playing with the gallery. God help us!,” Dar tweeted.
Unbelievable —minimum morality warrants Alvi Sb to resign, having failed to run his office effectively, efficiently and as per Rules of Business — official work is conducted on files and implementation ensured — such statements only indicate playing with the gallery.
God help us! pic.twitter.com/UopZRVe6Tq
— Ishaq Dar (@MIshaqDar50) August 20, 2023
Official Secrets Act
Unauthorised Disclosure of Identities (Section 6-A):
Creates a new crime: sharing secret identities of intelligence members, informants, or sources.
Punishment: Up to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs10 million.
New Definition of “Enemy” (Section 8-A):
Adds a definition for “enemy” as someone working against Pakistan’s safety and interests.
Attempts and Incitement (Section 9):
Makes it a crime to encourage, plan, or help commit a crime under this law.
Punishment: Same as the actual crime.
Investigations Procedure (Section 12-A):
Describes how investigations will be done under the law.
Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) will handle investigations.
FIA Director General can set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
Investigations should finish within 30 working days.
Admissibility of Collected Material (Section 12-B):
Material collected during inquiries or investigations can be used as evidence in court.
This includes electronic devices, data, documents, etc.
Removed Sub-Section (2A) of Section 11:
Previously allowed intelligence agencies to search people or places without a warrant.
Removed from the law.
Unauthorised Disclosure of Information (Official Secrets):
If someone in an official role shares sensitive information harmful to Pakistan’s security, they could face up to five years in prison.
Exception: If they have permission from the army chief or an authorized officer, no punishment.
Disclosure Against Pakistan’s Interest and Army:
Sharing info against Pakistan’s interest and army could lead to consequences under Official Secrets Act and Army Act.
Political Activity Restrictions:
Individuals can’t engage in political activities until two years after retiring, resigning, or being dismissed from service.
Those in sensitive roles can’t join politics for five years.
Breaking this rule can result in up to two years of punishment.
Electronic Crimes Involving Army Defamation:
If someone under Army Act commits online crimes to defame the army, they will be dealt with under Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act.
Defamation and Hatred Against Army:
Speaking ill of or spreading hate against the army can lead to up to two years in prison and a fine.
Disclosure of National Security Secrets:
Leaking secrets related to national security can result in a prison term of up to five years.