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Defense Minister Announces Charges Under Official Secrets Act for Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Documents

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has expressed grave concern over the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and classified information circulating on social media platforms. In a statement shared on X, he emphasized that the government has taken strict notice of this issue, particularly after classified documents, including those marked as secret, were openly displayed.

Highlighting the potential repercussions, Asif underscored that the dissemination of such information could severely damage Pakistan’s relations with its allies and brotherly nations, in addition to posing threats to the country’s strategic and economic interests.

To address this serious breach, the federal government has decided to take legal action under the Official Secrets Act 2023 against individuals found involved in disclosing or sharing secret information or documents. Asif reiterated that the punishment for such offenses includes imprisonment for up to two years along with fines.

The defense minister’s statement follows Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s approval of a draft amendment to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, as part of the government’s efforts to regulate social media through legislation.

According to sources, the proposed PECA Amendment Bill 2024 includes the establishment of a Digital Rights Protection Authority, falling under the Ministry of Information Technology’s purview. This authority aims to advise the government on digital rights matters, promote responsible internet use, and enforce regulations.

Among its key functions, the authority will collaborate with social media platforms to foster a positive digital environment, regulate online content, investigate violations of the amended PECA law, and take necessary actions against offenders. It will have the authority to demand information from individuals involved and establish rules to uphold digital rights laws, ensuring a secure online environment while protecting user rights.

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I am an accomplished graduate of Strategic Studies, driven by a fervent dedication to comprehending global affairs and devising impactful strategies. Equipped with a comprehensive skill set encompassing research, critical thinking, and persuasive communication, I possess a distinctive viewpoint and an unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive decision-making processes. As a versatile individual, I excel in collaborating with diverse groups in various settings, leveraging my strong interpersonal abilities to adapt seamlessly to new environments and surmount any challenges that arise. With a passion for contributing to strategic initiatives, I am eager to leverage my expertise and drive to effect positive change within the field.

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