ISLAMABAD – President Dr. Arif Alvi signed the Pakistan Army Act (Amendment) Bill and the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023 into law on Saturday.
The news comes only days after the president declined to sign several laws. The legislation’ passage would broaden the reach of the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.
Both legislation were previously adopted by Pakistan’s National Assembly and Senate.
Unauthorized publication of material relating to national security and interests would be punished by the Army Act Amendment Bill 2023, with the individual concerned punishable to five years in jail.
According to the law, any action conducted against Pakistan and its military forces that involves disclosures will be considered, and the appropriate individual would be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Army Act. The individual will be barred from participating in political activities under the legislation, and they will be barred from participating in political activities for two years following retirement, resignation, or dismissal.
Individuals assigned to sensitive responsibilities will be barred from participating in political activities for five years, and those who violate the restriction would face a hefty two-year prison sentence.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly earlier this month enacted the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, with a revision in the original text for the amendment.
The earlier draft authorized intelligence services to arrest individuals or conduct warrantless searches. This provision was removed from the bill’s final form.
Another change was made to clause 5 of the bill, which previously stated: “[A] person may be presumed to have been in communication with enemy or a foreign agent if he has visited the address of a foreign agent or consorted or associated with enemy or a foreign agent, either within or without Pakistan…”