Despite a lingering wave of criticism and amidst the frantic cries of the civil society, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government has passed the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015 on Thursday after the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the bill – with 50 amendments – earlier in July.

It wasn’t only the civil society that felt this strongly about the bill; the opposition railed against the bill in strong terms on the floor of the National Assembly and tried to hold up proceedings to prevent the bill from passing. Yet for a government that had grown tired of trying to perfect the motion, any further deliberation was out of the question. Using its majority, the government overruled all objections and passed the law – lacunas and all.

For lawmakers – whose primary job is surprisingly lawmaking – to get tired of debating law is shameful. The way this government gave up is demoralising still. From humbly asking all stakeholders to contribute in the process IT Minister Anusha Rehman, quickly went to “non-governmental organisations and civil society representatives are opposing the bill due to a certain agenda.” We assume that agenda is protecting freedom of speech, since that is the only thing they have been asking for. Even if we attempt to address her baseless accusations, what reason do MNAs have for calling the bill a “travesty” and “draconian”? The IT Minister has no answer.

While there is always room for reform and amendments after, for the time being the public must come to terms with the fact that they are now being governed under a law that is nebulous and ill defined. They must prepare themselves for confusion, frivolous prosecution, and unexplained censure. With such uncertainty in the ranks of the drafters, the average policeman tasked with enforcing it is bound to make mistakes – time and again.

However, all is not lost. The struggle has now moved from the parliament to the courthouse. Judges in the appellate courts now have the responsibility of interpreting these words, and in doing so concretely defining the scope of the many problems in the bill. With a better stomach for legal jargon and an expertise in the practical justice system, it is hoped that our justices can mitigate the effects of such imperfect legislation.

But for that to happen we have to wait for cases on disputed points of law to arise, and for them to make it to the higher court, and for them to be heard by competent judges – and that process could take years.

In the meanwhile, the public is advised to be circumspect in its online business, since its representatives were too tired to debate their freedoms any further.