It was recently reported that the government plans to take action against anyone found to ‘malign’ the Prime Minister or his family. No detailed information regarding the words “negative propaganda” were revealed which caused a huge backlash on social, print and electronic media.
Following that, the government has started publishing advisory ads in print media which try to warn people against certain activities which could be penalized under Pakistani laws.
The ads quote Article 19 from the Constitution of Pakistan which states that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and the press is free as well, but bolds out parts like “subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law” for the “glory of Islam”, “integrity, security or defense of Pakistan” or anything that could hurt “friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality”.
The ads then point out several laws and their punishments if such acts are carried out. These are:
- Section 109: Punishment for Abetment is punishable by the same penalty as its offence
- Section 124-A: Sedition is punishable by life in jail or death
- Section 153–A: Inciting two groups could put you in jail for up to 5 years
- Section 295-A: To incite people using religious feelings could imprison one for up to 10 years
- Sections 295–B & C: Defilement or derogatory remarks against the Holy Quran or Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is punishable by life sentence, death penalty and fine.
- Sections 298 & 298-A & B: Attempting to harm religious feelings or making derogatory remarks against Holy personalities could put you in jail for three years, fine, or both
- Sections 500, 501, 504 & 508: To distribute defamatory material or provoke a breach of peace is punishable by 2 to 5 years in jail and/or fine.
- Section 11-W: Violation of Anti-terrorism Act 1997 is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fine
- Section 11 & 13: Violation of Security of Pakistan Act 1952 can put you in prison for up to three years, fine or both.
It also states that violation of any law of the Constitution of Pakistan could punish citizens under the relevant laws with fines, imprisonment, or both.
The ads were published following remarks on social media in favor of the corruption allegations against the PM and his family in the Panama case. The recent issue of anti-Islamic and derogatory pages was also one of the major factors behind this move.
The government wants to send out a message that while freedom of speech exists, any public expression against the Prime Minister or any remarks against Islam will be dealt with according to the law.