Army Act and Official Secrets Act Amendments Approved by President in Pakistan

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President Arif Alvi of Pakistan has given his approval to the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill 2023 and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2023, thereby officially making them acts of parliament. These pieces of legislation were previously passed by the Senate and National Assembly amidst criticism from opposition lawmakers.

The Official Secrets Act now includes a new provision in Section 6-A, which specifies that any unauthorized disclosure of the identities of intelligence agency members, informants, or sources will be considered an offense. The punishment for this offense can include up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs10 million.

The Pakistan Army Act introduces changes that allow for up to five years of rigorous imprisonment for individuals found guilty of disclosing information, acquired in an official capacity, that can be prejudicial to the security and interests of Pakistan or its armed forces.

One of the amendments in the Army Act grants additional powers to the army chief, while also prohibiting ex-servicemen from participating in politics or engaging in activities that may conflict with the interests of the army. The act also introduces imprisonment as a punishment for defaming the army.

Moreover, the new law restricts any person subject to the army act from engaging in political activities for a period of two years following their retirement, release, resignation, discharge, removal, or dismissal from the service.

These amendments to the Official Secrets Act and Pakistan Army Act aim to bolster national security and ensure the protection of classified information. With these acts in place, stricter measures will be imposed to maintain the confidentiality of intelligence operations and safeguard the country’s interests in the face of potential threats.

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