pak_parliament

Pakistan’s ‘Patriot Act’ Could Target Politicians

by Dina Temple-Raston, KQED.com  |  published on January 2, 2013

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan’s Patriot Act. Its name here is “Investigation for Fair Trial Bill”.

It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court.

To American ears, the argument for the new law should sound vaguely familiar. Pakistani officials say that in order to fight the war against terror they need to be allowed to capture emails, listen in on cell phone calls, and track suspects so they can stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

That’s the same argument FBI Director Robert Mueller made before members of Congress when the FBI sought changes in the Patriot Act.

Already A Common Practice

The difference is that the Pakistani version has been introduced into an entirely different societal context. To begin with, it is an open secret that security agencies in Pakistan already tape phones and monitor email with impunity.

They are supposed to get warrants to do this, but they rarely do. The bill is seen as legal cover for what is already common practice. Another difference: This being Pakistan, the feeling among those who are following the bill is that the investigative powers won’t be limited to terrorists. Politicians, they believe, are likely to be the main targets.

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