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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Army’s role in Pakistan’s development gets parliamentary backing

Bill also proposes 5-year prison term for those who disclose sensitive information related to national security

Pakistan’s parliament on Monday passed rare legislation which allows a role for the powerful army in the “country’s development,” state media reported.

The bill to amend the Pakistan Army Act 1952 was passed by the lower house, or the National Assembly, a week after it got a nod from the Senate.

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Senators from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, headed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who otherwise have been at loggerheads with the military since his ouster in April 2022, also supported the legislation. The party has decided to take disciplinary action against the dissenting lawmakers.

The bill now needs to be signed by President Arif Alvi to become law.

According to the newly-inserted Section 175-E, the army can carry out activities related to national development and advancement of national or strategic interests.

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The legislation, which also proposes up to five years in jail for those who disclose sensitive information pertaining to the security of the country or the military, was passed just less than two weeks before the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to complete its term on Aug.12.

The government has recently passed dozens of bills, including one enhancing the powers of the caretaker prime minister, ahead of crucial elections expected in the fall.