Islamabad- President Mamnoon Hussain today signed into law the Protection of Pakistan Bill.

The new law doubles the maximum sentence for terrorism offences to 20 years and allows security forces to hold suspects for up to 60 days without disclosing their whereabouts or allegations against them.

Moreover, it permits security forces to shoot suspects on sight with the permission of a grade-15 official. According to the law, the order to shoot a person on suspicion will come only from an official of a law-enforcement agency or a police officer of grade-15 or above.

Based on two presidential ordinances decreed in October 2013 and last January, the legislation had recently been approved in the Parliament and only awaited the president's signature for it to come into effect.

With the formal presidential assent today, the legislation has finally become law for two years, instead of the previously stipulated three years. Earlier on July 2, the National Assembly had passed the legislation with a majority vote in a special one-day session of the 342-seat lower house.

The legislation was able to make it through the houses of Parliament following accommodation of many opposition amendments to what had become the most controversial legislation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's one-year-old administration on grounds of violation of fundamental rights.

The legislation has been criticized by various quarters and rights groups and is being viewed as a tool that can be used to suppress peaceful political opposition and criticism of government policies.