LAHORE: Leaders of the Opposition have termed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022 law a “fascist and dictatorship” bill in a joint statement issued on Tuesday.
The joint statement was released after a meeting was held between PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif. The meeting was also attended by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and JUI’s Maulana Asad Mahmood.
According to the statement, the leaders held an “important conversation” over their plans to bring about a no-confidence motion against the PTI government.
All the leaders agreed that inflation was “burning” the houses of the people and they could only be saved by sending the incumbent government home.
The statement said that the leaders also expressed concern over “cheating and lawlessness” in the country. The government has failed to save lives property and meet the basic needs of the people, it said.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday suspended implementation of the recent amendments made to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 through a presidential ordinance.
After initial hearing, an IHC single bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from making arrests under Section 20 of the law till further orders.
The court issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) to appear before it on next date of hearing for assistance in the case. The bench called for all the petitions involving the law to be clubbed together for joint hearing. The case was put off till tomorrow.
The bench was hearing a petition moved by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) that stated President Arif Alvi promulgated Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance 2022, whereby amendments have been brought in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016.
The petitioner said that the promulgation of the ordinance is based on “malice” as the required conditions have not been met by the government.
The ordinance was promulgated two days after the end of the Senate session on Feb 17 and the session of the National Assembly was scheduled for Feb 18 but was called off at the eleventh hour, it pointed out, adding that, “by doing so the respondents have promulgated the ordinance with deliberate intent in order to avoid the due process of legislation”.
“No emergency situations had arisen which called for issuance of an ordinance of this nature as it could have waited till the session of the National Assembly was called,” the petitioner argued.
It said that freedom of expression is one of the fundamentals of a healthy democracy and to create an environment where people of the country are penalised for speaking their heart out, to express their opinion, to present facts before the general public, is against the democratic values given by not only the constitution of Pakistan but the world over.
The court was pleaded to strike down the impugned Prevention of Electronic Crimes Amendment Ordinance of 2022.