ISLAMABAD: The upper house of parliament on Friday passed a bill to curb the misuse of amplifiers and loudspeakers. The Senate called for an amendment to the West Pakistan Regulation and Control of Loudspeakers and Sound Amplifiers Ordinance 1965 in its application to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
The National Assembly had passed the bill on November 5, 2010. The West Pakistan Regulation and Control of Loudspeakers and Sound Amplifiers (Amendment) Bill, 2010” would serve as a ‘major deterrent to the growing sectarianism’.
An official attending the session said that various religious leaders belonging to different schools of thought were misusing loudspeakers and promoting hatred. “This breeds violent sentiments among different sects,” he added.
Now anyone found guilty of misusing this facility shall in addition to any other law, in place at the time of committing the offence, may be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or with fine which may extend to Rs50,000 or with both.
Ministry of Interior maintained that sectarianism was a major threat to humanity and the ordinance will provide a mechanism to control the misuse of amplifiers and loudspeakers in this regard.
The ordinance was last amended in 2007. Former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf had directed station house officers (SHO) of various areas to send written directives to leaders of mosques in Islamabad not to misuse loudsperakers. Since then, use of mosque loudspeakers for purposes other than Azan (call for prayer) and Friday sermons was banned.
The letter clearly warned clerics ‘to obey the law or face consequences’. It also directed the authorities concerned to take strict measures against people misusing loudspeakers, publishing hate literature and fanning sectarianism.
Most of the clerics of Islamabad had refused to accept the ban and defied the government’s directives. However, denying this claim Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali Ahmad, when contacted, told The Express Tribune that Islamabad administration had taken serious steps to implement the Amplifier Act in 2007 and it was successful in curbing the ‘misuse’.
Spokesperson for Wafaqul Madaris, Abdul Qudus, while welcoming the new law, claimed that mosque administrations had been following the law since 2007. “These punishments should not be just for ulemas. The authorities should also take notice of open concerts, pressure horns in vehicles and playing of loud music in houses,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2011.