KARACHI: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged the Pakistan government not to criminalise criticising the armed forces as it posed a serious threat to journalistic freedom.

It also stressed that as general elections were approaching, the law could seriously hinder the democratic process.

According to a report issued by RSF on Monday, journalists could face five years in prison for commenting on the army under the proposed amendment that the government is planning to table in the parliament.

It said the proposed law’s wording is “extremely vague” and its consequences could be disastrous in the run-up to general elections later this year.

The report said the draft penal code amendment would create a new type of offence.

Daniel Bastard, head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to immediately abandon the proposed law as it created a very “vaguely worded offence that gives the police exorbitant administrative powers over journalists and is clearly designed solely to prohibit any form of comment about the armed forces”.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2023

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