GILGIT: The legislative assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan passed a bill on Thursday to ban the misuse of loudspeakers and amplifiers in the region.
The bill was tabled in the house by G-B Parliamentary Secretary on Law and Justice Advocate Aurangzeb Khan and passed through a majority vote. The session was chaired by Speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad.
According to the bill, those who violate the law will be punished with either imprisonment for a term no longer than six months or a fine up to Rs100,000.
The ban will not be applicable to designated religious gatherings and loudspeakers can be used on special occasions such as Friday and Eid sermons or congregations allowed by the government in advance.
The law aims to curb sectarianism which is a major threat in the region. It will provide a mechanism to control the misuse of amplifiers and loudspeakers.
Groundswell of support
Minister for Works Dr Muhammad Iqbal threw his weight behind the bill, saying it must be implemented in letter and spirit to rid the region of sectarianism.
“In the past, misuse of loudspeakers was [the reason] behind the spread of hate between sects,” he said.
Senior minister Akbar Taban also supported the law and said hate speech must be banned.
Deputy Speaker Jafarullah Khan said controlling “mischief” spread through loudspeakers is society’s shared responsibility.
On the other hand, Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) lawmaker Salma Bibi called the bill unlawful, saying hate speech has never come out of mosques.
The lawmaker also called for a ban on music played during polo matches.
Opposition leader Shah Baig condemned the bill. He said it was an attempt to impose a ban on Friday sermons.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2016.