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Pakistan with 'anti-fake news law' to clampdown dissent

Pakistan with anti-fake news law to clampdown dissent

Islamabad: Pakistan has introduced an ordinance to restrict social media influencers, vloggers and journalists from spreading fake news against the administration and military, IANS reported.

The presidential ordinance was introduced under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2022, and it states that anyone spreading fake news or criticising the state institutions can be penalised to five years in jail with slim chances for bail.

Announcing the ordinance, Pakistan Law Minister Faroogh Naeem described it as a pivotal and much-needed amendment for laws on cybercrime. He added that no one should be exempted from the effort to eliminate the menace of fake news. He said that Media is free to criticise but should channel fake news. Spreading it would be a non-bailable offence and would invite six months imprisonment.

However, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called the new law undemocratic. It condemned the law through a statement. The law is intended to clamp down dissenters and critics of the state, it said. It was a deliberate attack on freedom of expression, the fundamental right of every individual.

Opposition parties came down on the government, questioning the ordinance and terming it "draconian". Instead of protecting the vulnerable from cyber attacks, the law does the opposite, Senator Sherry Rehman, a senior leader in the opposition, said.

The government, as well as the powerful military in the country, were criticised by social media, journalists, influencers etc., pointing out that the government is incompetent and incapable of policymaking.

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