Pak passes extensive anti-terror law

Islamabad: Pakistan’s parliament has passed a controversial anti-terror law in Wednesday which would give security forces unbridled powers, including right to shoot-at-sight suspects of terrorism, arson and murder.

The decision comes amid a full military offensive against the Taliban and allied jihadist groups in the North Waziristan tribal district with warnings from rights activists that the bill could result in state-sponsored human rights violations.

The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 allows the security forces also arrest suspects without a warrant and keep them under detention for 60 days and withhold information about where detainees are being held or what they are being charged with.

In presenting the measure, one cabinet minister, Zahid Hamid, said it would “send a message that the government stands with the military in the operation against terrorists.”

The Bill will remain in force for two years, it offers “statutory cover to armed forces which are fighting against the enemies of the country for the revival of peace and stability,” Hamid added.

Under the act, security forces can conduct search operations without securing warrant from a judicial officer.

To allay apprehensions of rights groups, it envisages detention centre under the supervision of courts and provisions for judicial inquiry, if anyone was killed by security agencies under its ambit.

Another important feature is imprisonment for at least 20 years for those convicted of militancy. Cybercrimes and offences related to information technology, as well as the crossing of national boundaries illegally have been included in the list of scheduled offences.

So far a total of 386 militants and 19 soldiers have been killed in the offensive.

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