ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties are planning to challenge a sweeping new anti-terror law in court, politicians said on Tuesday, because they fear it will legalise human rights violations.
The Protection of Pakistan Bill was passed late on Monday amid protests from members of parliament and condemnation from international rights groups such as Amnesty International. The law grants sweeping powers of arrest and detention to already powerful security forces. “This law will turn Pakistan into a police state,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of the Tehreek-i-Insaf party, told a news conference. “We have decided to take this law to court and challenge its anti-human rights stance.”
When the National Assembly approved the bill, opposition party members tore up copies and threw them in the air and walked out of the assembly in protest. The law permits the security forces to shoot suspects on sight, detain them at secret locations for up to 90 days and carry out raids without search warrants. The security forces can also carry out secret trials. Lawmakers warn the law is too broad and that anger over abuses by the police and army is already fuelling growing militancy.
Qureshi, a former foreign minister, said his party had the support of the country’s main Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which has held sway in the commercial hub of Karachi for decades. The main opposition, the Pakistan People’s Party, has led protests against the law in the National Assembly. Government ministers, including the law minister and minister of information, as well as members of the ruling party’s legal team, were not available for comment.
International rights bodies have accused Pakistani security forces of abducting, torturing and murdering civilians. The security forces, battling increasingly violent militants as well as separatist rebels in some places, deny violating human rights.
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