MQM-P leader asks PM Imran to drop idea of amending PECA

Already a regressive law has become more dangerous now, says Faisal Sabzwari

News Desk February 23, 2022
MQM-P leader Faisal Sabzwari. PHOTO: FILE

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Faisal Sabzwari on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to drop the idea of amending the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), suggesting him to take stakeholders onboard to curb fake news.

On Sunday, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the ordinance to amend PECA, increasing the jail term for defaming any person or institution from three years to five years by making a change in Section 20 of the law.

Under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022, which came “into force at once", online public defamation had also been made a cognisable and a non-bailable offence.

Read more: IT minister urges PM Imran to 'pay heed' to PECA protests

"We reject amendments in PECA, already a regressive law has become more dangerous now," Sabzwari wrote on his official Twitter handle.

He said that arresting someone without warrants would mean guilty before proven. "We have faced it and don’t want others to face that. We demand Prime Minister Imran Khan to drop this idea, take stakeholders onboard to curb Fake News," he added.

The federal government is increasingly coming under pressure over the recently promulgated ordinance introducing “controversial” amendments to the PECA, with the changes being challenged in the high courts of Islamabad and Lahore on Tuesday and the journalist community announcing a protest outside the Parliament House on March 1 against them.

Earlier today, Federal Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haque, who also belongs to MQM-P – an ally of PTI-led federal government, had also expressed concern over the recent amendments to the act, and in a letter to the premier, said the change has drawn widespread “condemnation and ire of media bodies and the journalistic community”.

Read Media bodies reject ‘draconian’ PECA ordinance

The IT minister stated that the media bodies’ view was that the amendments were drafted without “constructive consultation with the relevant stakeholders”.

“By pushing forward with these amendments without consulting the relevant stakeholders, in this case media practitioners, the government will stoke anger and resentment within the journalistic community,” Haque added.

He further urged PM Imran to launch a consultative process with the civil society and media community “at the earliest”.

Haque stated that it was only through dialogue and deliberation that media practitioners and the government could establish procedures to curtail fake news.


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