ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party, the major opposition party, has moved a private members’ bill in the Senate seeking to abolish the sedition law.

Former chairman Senate and PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani has moved the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the house that seeks to abolish the Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.

The bill was introduced in the house, despite opposition of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insafe (PTI), and Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani  subsequently referred it to the standing committee concerned for making further deliberations on it.

Section 124 A, commonly known as Sedition Law states, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Federal or Provincial Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

This section is part of the inherited colonial structure of governance

The statement of objects and reasons of the draft bill says, “This section is part of the inherited colonial structure of governance that continues in Pakistan. This section was for the natives who had to be kept under control least they incited rebelling against the masters.”

It further says that this law served as a brutal occupying force and today is being applied with increasing regularity to crush political dissent and make the citizen submit to unquestionable obedience.

It further says that today, the relationship between the rulers and ruled is no longer one of master and servant and the respect of the government cannot be regulated through law. The respect for the state arises from the individual freedom and ability to govern, it adds.

Senator Rabbani while moving the bill said that they inherited sedition law from the British which had introduced it to main its control over the masses. “This law has been used against the democratic forces in the past and even today,” he said adding some protesting students in Lahore had been booked under this law.

The government opposed the bill with Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that no country in the world gives absolute power of freedom of expression. “We cannot abolish the law that protects security and sanctity of the country,” he said adding that those forces, with its abolishment, would get an opportunity who are fighting fifth-generation warfare against Pakistan.

At the same time, he admitted that this law can be amended to make it more comprehensive.

With his remarks, Rabbani responded that that the law was only related to federal and provincial governments and other laws were there to address fears the government is talking about.