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Monday, November 12, 2007

Civilians can be court-martialled : Army Act amended By Nasir Iqbal

(Update) - In the press conference yesterday Gen. Musharraf tried to justify the amendment of Army Act and tried to allay fears that it would be used against terror suspects only not against civilians.

In Pakistan, laws are for the ordinary Pakistanis - ordinary as in poor, disenfranchised. The rich, the landed, the feudals are a law unto themselves.

The activists should not let the focus on this draconian law subside. Do not take the General at his words. This is not against terrorists and anti-state activists. Its reach is extensive and can be just easily used to silence you. See this in context of 58 2 (b) and the creeping power of the army in civilian and government affairs.


As the local and world attention is focused on the Emergency, the President has tried to sneak in this amendment under the Army Act which is a gross travesty that is largely being neglected by the citizens and media.

After the constitution is restored this should be one of the first Acts the SC should strike down and a resurgent National Assembly should look into reinforcing legislation whereby members of the Armed Forces can be tried under civilian laws superseding the protection afforded them under the Army Act.

Under the amendment, a sub-clause (iia) will be inserted into the sub-clause (ii) which says: “Any offence, if committed in relation to defence or security of Pakistan or any part thereof or Armed Forces of Pakistan, punishable under the Explosive Substance Act, 1908 (VI of 1908), prejudicial conduct under the Security of Pakistan Act, 1952 (XXXV of 1952), the Pakistan Arms Ordinance, 1965 (W.P.Ord. XX of 1965), the Prevention of Anti-national Activities Act, 1974 (VII of 1974) or Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 (XXVII of 1997), Sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public, or by more than ten persons), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121), 122 (collecting arms, etc., with intention of waging war against Pakistan), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war), 123A (condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty), 124 (assaulting president, governor, etc., with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power), 124A (sedition), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 302 (punishment of Qatl-i-amd), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 505 (statement conducive to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code or attempt to commit any of the said offences.”

“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 89 of the Constitution read with proclamation of emergency of the of third day of November 2007 and the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) No 1 of 2007, the president is pleased to make and promulgate the ordinance,” the government notification said.


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