Amendments submitted by ARD: Defamation bill
ISLAMABAD – The Alliance for Restoration of Democracy has submitted two amendments to the newly-introduced defamation bill, sources said. They said that amendments were submitted by ARD’s parliamentary secretary Izhar Amrohvi to the National Assembly Secretariat on August 2.
The bill, introduced on July 29 by the government to amend defamation laws, seeks an increase in imprisonment term and fine for any person found to be responsible of defaming any other person.
Journalists have protested all over the country against the government’s move to include reporters, editors, publishers and even distributors in the defamation laws. The bill was later referred to the assembly’s standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs.
Sources said that the ARD’s first amendment called for making the defamation bill public and seek public opinion in this regard. The amendment was signed by Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Raja Pervez Ashraf of the People’s Party Parliamentarians and Tehmina Daultana of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The second amendment, sources said, called for referring the bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology to seek its guidance on the matter. Sources said the amendment was submitted after the government’s move to include some Islamic references to justify punishments under the defamation laws.
The amendment was signed by Syed Khurshid Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Syed Naveed Qamar and Nayyar Bokhari of the PPP and Tehmina Daultana of the PML-N.
Interestingly, members of both the treasury and the opposition said they were unaware about the inclusion of the clause suggesting punishment for journalists when the bill was moved in the National Assembly.
The issue was highlighted after reporters boycotted the National Assembly’s morning session on July 30 to register their protest against the bill. However, unlike past practices, no member of the opposition benches expressed solidarity with the protesting journalists and they continued with their speeches in the assembly in the absence of reporters from the press gallery.
The sources said the ARD had submitted these amendments to compensate for its “mistake.” Meanwhile, the ARD on Monday also submitted an adjournment motion seeking a discussion on the incident in which six persons, including five armymen, were killed in an attack in Khuzdar.
The motion has been signed by nine assembly members, including Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Syed Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Nayyar Bokhari, Fauzia Habib, Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir and Tehmina Daultana.