President Arif Alvi did not sign new national security laws
Media reported on 19 August 2023 that he signed both bills
Claim: President Dr Arif Alvi has signed the Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 and the Pakistan Army Act Amendment Bill 2023.
Fact: The president denied signing or assenting to changes being made to both bills.
Fact or Fiction?
On 19 August 2023, Business Recorder posted on X (formerly Twitter), that President Alvi has signed the Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 and Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023.
The gazette notes that the acts were “deemed to have been assented by the President with effect from 11th August, 2023”.
However, on 20 August 2023, President Alvi denied personally signing and assenting to bills amending the Official Secrets Act and the Pakistan Army Act.
“As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill, 2023 and Pakistan Army Amendment Bill, 2023 as I disagreed with these laws,” his post on X reads.
As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws. I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that…
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) August 20, 2023
The president said that he confirmed with his staff many times whether the bills were returned and was assured that they were.
“However I have found out today that my staff undermined my will and command … I ask forgiveness from those who will be affected,” the president said.
The bills have already been passed by the Senate and National Assembly and were sent to the president for his approval. Both the bills have been heavily criticised by lawmakers belonging to both the treasury and opposition benches.
The Army Act Amendment Bill was passed by the Senate on 27 July and by the National Assembly on 31 July 2023. The Official Secrets Amendment Bill was adopted by the Senate on 6 August and by NA on 7 August 2023.
On 21 August 2023, the President’s Secretariat removed Secretary Waqar Ahmed stating that his services were “no more required” and sought Humaira Ahmad, a BPS-22 officer, as a replacement.
In view of the definite statement of yesterday, President’s Secretariat has written a letter to Principal Secretary to Prime Minister that the services of Mr. Waqar Ahmed, Secretary to President, are no more required and are surrendered to the Establishment Division, immediately.
— The President of Pakistan (@PresOfPakistan) August 21, 2023
Following the president’s allegations that his staff, “undermined his will and command,” Ahmed penned a letter to address the concerns directly and urged Alvi to reconsider his removal, according to reports by Dawn, Express Tribune and The News.
Ahmed said that the Army Act Bill was received on August 2 by the presidency. It was then moved to the president’s office from the secretary’s office on August 3. A note accompanied it, stating that the 10-day period for the president to give assent or send the bill back would end on August 11.
He said that the president did not approve the bill nor gave written permission to send it back for Parliament’s reconsideration. The file had not been returned to the secretary’s office yet.
The Secrets Act Bill reached the presidency on August 8. It was transferred to the president’s office on August 9 with a note specifying that President Alvi had 10 days to approve the bill or return it.
Ahmed said that President Alvi didn’t choose either option, and the bill was still pending return to the secretary’s office.
Soch Fact Check concludes that the president did not sign either bills or give assent to them.
Conclusion: President Arif Alvi did not sign or give assent to the new national security laws. His former secretary also noted that the president neither approved the bills nor gave written permission to send them back to parliament for reconsideration.
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