Pakistan’s parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial legislation empowering security forces to shoot-at-sight suspects involved in terrorism, arson, murder and attacks on health officials.
The “Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014″ empowers an official of grade 15 (Non Gazetted Officers/Junior Officers/ JCOs) and above to issue such orders.
It also allows a suspect to be kept under detention for a period of 60 days after getting judicial remand.
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 the imprisonment for at least 20 years for those convicted of militancy.
The bill was adopted with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) voting in favour of the resolution. It will remain in force for two years.
The draft bill was introduced in the National Assembly or lower house, by Minister of Science and Technology Zahid Hamid on behalf of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Earlier on Monday, the Senate or upper house had unanimously approved the bill.
Hamid said the bill was of “utmost importance” due to the military operation in North Waziristan, to enable security forces to take prompt action against the rebels.
However, Pakistan’s human rights bodies and opposition criticised the bill saying it gives unbridled powers to security agencies.
Rightwing Jamaat-i-Islami opposed the bill saying it violated certain human rights provisions of the Constitution.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf did not participate in the voting.
The National Assembly vote comes after the government accepted more than a dozen Opposition introduced amendments to the draft bill.