Alvi claims he asked his staff to return bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective

ISLAMABAD: In an unusual turn of events, President Arif Alvi on Sunday said that he did not sign the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, blaming his office staff for going against his orders.

Alvi’s revelations came on microblogging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, a day after he had assented to the two bills. “As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws,” President Alvi said.

“I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that whether they have been returned & was assured that they were.”

“However I have found out today that my staff undermined my will and command. As Allah knows all, He will forgive IA. But I ask forgiveness from those who will be effected,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that two PTI leaders — Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Imran Khan — were arrested after a first information report (FIR) was registered against them under Official Secrets Act for disclosing the contents of the diplomatic cipher for political gains on August 15.

Following President Alvi revelations, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) expressed its deep concerns, saying that his post was unusual, alarming, and unimaginable from every aspect.

“The president’s tweet has exposed to the nation the deadliest infection spreading from top to bottom in the state system,” the PTI wrote on its official X account.

It added that the party spokesperson would respond after reviewing President Alvi’s post in detail.

The National Assembly, on July 31, passed the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aiming to penalise individuals with a potential five-year imprisonment term for disclosing sensitive information concerning national security or the armed forces.

Separately, the Official Secrets Act was greenlit just a few days before the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 7.

Following approval of the bills from both the Senate and National Assembly, a move that drew criticism from lawmakers belonging to both treasury and opposition benches, they were presented to the president for a final nod.

The president also faced stern criticism from his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), for signing the bills.

Approval of bills

It should be noted that the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2023, bill was sent to the president on August 1 for approval whereas it was received the following day on August 2.

Subsequently, the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was sent to the president on August 8 for approval and was revived on the same day.

According to Article 75(1) of the Constitution, the president shall give his assent to approved bill of the Parliament within ten days of its receipt.

“In the case of a Bill other than a Money Bill, return the Bill to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) with a message requesting that the Bill or any specified provision thereof, be reconsidered and that any amendment specified in the message be considered,” read Article 75(1)(b) of the Constitution.

The president objected to the said bills after constitutional period of 10 days.

Under Article 75, the bill must be approved by the joint session after being sent back by the president. After approval by the joint session, the bill is again sent to the president for approval.

Furthermore, if the president does not approve the bill within 10 days it then turns into an act.

What is Army and Official Secrets Act?

The Army Act paves the way for the punishment of up to five-year rigorous imprisonment to any person guilty of disclosing any information, acquired in an official capacity that is or may be prejudicial to the security and interest of Pakistan or the armed forces.

Its amendments would be applicable to serving and retired officers and personnel of the Pakistan Army, including inter alia, the power to grant commission, determine terms of conditions of service, carry out welfare activities, national development tasks and for other operational and institutional matters in the light of Supreme Court judgment.

The revised version of the Official Secrets Act empowers the FIA to conduct investigations against individuals suspected of violating it.

The amended bill also excludes the amendment which labelled an individual as an enemy for engaging with foreign agents.

An important insertion in the Official Secrets Act 1923 says that under this Act “the Investigation Officer shall be an officer of the FIA not below the rank of BPS-17 or equivalent and he shall be designated by Director General FIA. If Director General FIA deems necessary, he may appoint Joint Investigation Team consisting of officers of intelligence agen¬cies as he may appoint.”

According to the bill, the JIT will complete its inquiry within 30 days. The case relating to civil espionage will be investigated by the FIA or JIT. However, according to an amendment in Clause-B of Section 12, the punishment for an offence has been reduced from 14 to 10 years.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By RelationsTimes
Load More In Information

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

“Pakistan, Kazakhstan Enhance Ties: Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, Ambassador Kistafin Discuss Cooperation”

  Islamabad, Thursday, 19th April, 2024: Muhammad Daniyal Special Correspondent Daily…