The International League for Peoples Struggles – South Asia (ILPS-SA) is expressing concern over the recent moves of the government of Pakistan to extend the powers of security forces and enable impunity by allowing warrantless arrest. According to the Official Secret Act Amendment 2023 proposal, if approved, allows the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) agencies “at any time, enter and search any person or place, without warrant, and if necessary, by use of force”. Such provision clearly is meant to, at the minimum, create a climate of fear, but worse things can happen, including abduction, enforced disappearances and torture of persons deemed opposing the government.
Other law amendments include the revision of the Election Act of 2017, increasing the powers of the present caretaker government, the E-Safety Bill 2023 and the Personnel Data Protection Bill 2023, tightening the control of the government of digital data and social media. There is also the The Pakistan Army Act Amendment 2023, paving the way for a punishment of up to five-year rigorous imprisonment to “any person guilty of disclosing any information, acquired in an official capacity which is or may be prejudicial to the security and interest of Pakistan or the armed forces”.
The growing discontent amongst the working people of due to the economic crisis will be one of the target of these laws. The introduction of the new laws will create a climate of fear, aimed at silencing any critical voices regarding government policies, including the bailout package by the International Monetary Fund for Pakistan. These will allow smooth implementation of more Neoliberal policies benefitting the local elite and their imperial masters.
The accelerated slide of Pakistan towards authoritarianism must be viewed with concern by all freedom-loving peoples of the world. Let us extend our solidarity to the working people of Pakistan opposing authoritarianism and promoting democracy.
International League for Peoples Struggles – South Asia
August 11, 2023