President Arif Alvi denies Signing Secret Act Changes

President Arif Alvi
President Arif Alvi

President Arif Alvi denied approving changes to the Official Secrets Act and the Pakistan Army Act in a tweet, leaving every Pakistani baffled. The Law Ministry working under the caretaker government has criticized his statement severely and urged him to take responsibility for his approval of bills.

In the wake of denial, social media platforms were taken by storm by political opponents criticizing his slackness in giving statements after 24 hours. President Arif Alvi stated, due to his disagreement with the Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 & Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023, he has categorically denied signing both the bills. He further elucidated that he had issued directions to his staff to return the bills unsigned within the stipulated time to render them ineffective.

President Arif Alvi Secretariat’s Staff did not follow directions

However, it was stated by the President’s Secretariat that his directions were not complied with and the staff did not follow his instructions. Moreover, President’s House has not released any official statement in this regard. National Media has reported that approval of bills took place on Saturday, August 19, 2023, whereafter bills were passed in the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan despite severe criticism. This sudden change of statement from President Arif Alvi has changed the dynamics of politics in Pakistan, bringing the matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan.

A gazette notification from the Senate Secretariat surfaced on social media shortly after the President’s Statement, according to which it seemed that cited bills have been assented to by the president, with effective dates in August 2023. Official notification is not yet uploaded on the official senate website as of now.

An insight into amendments

Amendment in the Official Secrets Amendment Bill introduces a new crime of disclosing intelligence agencies’ identities on the national level, which has been made punishable by up to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 1 Crore. Furthermore, the amendments in Pakistan Army Act include provisions for punishing individuals who have been found disclosing information detrimental to Pakistan’s security.

In addition to the above, an amendment in the Pakistan Army Act grants more powers to the Chief of Army Staff, restricting the retired servicemen from engaging in national politics or issues conflicting with the Pakistan Army and introducing defamation penalties upon Pakistani citizens for defaming the institution and army chief or any other any personnel. The amendment also includes a clause forbidding ex-servicemen from engaging in active politics for 2 whole years after their retirement.

Statement from President Alvi followed the detention of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PTI Vice Chairman, in connection with a case registered under the Official Secrets Act. FIR against Shah Mahmood Qureshi was registered as soon as an American news outlet “The Intercept” published the whole story of diplomatic cable, allegedly gone missing from Imran Khan’s possession.

Read more about Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrested under Official Secrets Act

A flurry of bills passed last week was also returned by the President for reconsideration by the Parliament of Pakistan, which had been passed by both houses i.e., Parliament & Senate of Pakistan, during the PDM government headed by Shehbaz Sharif.

In response to the statement of President Alvi, the Ministry of Law issued a statement expressing “grave concerns” over the president’s tweet, stressing upon only two conditions, whenever a bill is transmitted to the President’s Secretariat, is to give assent or return back with specific observations.

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PTI announced they would take up the matter with Supreme Court, voicing full support for President Alvi. PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan also called for legal action against the staff at President’s Secretariat for not complying with the directions as well as demanded initiation of inquiry into the matter and fixation of responsibility.

Immediately afterward the President’s tweet debate started of it being a constitutional crisis in Pakistan, in response to which the present interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi dismissed the notion and refuted the alleged seizure of the president’s office records.

Politicians and journalists over Twitter reacted strongly to Alvi’s claims, with some asking for his resignation from the Post and others insistent on a parliamentary probe into the matter. As the matter is unfolding, the situation in Pakistani politics remains uncertain.

2 thoughts on “President Arif Alvi denies Signing Secret Act Changes”

  1. Pingback: Amendments To Pakistan's Army Act And Official Secrets Act Unveiled

  2. Pingback: President's Secretary Replaced Due To Allegations - We State You Choose

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