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Pakistan's Senate is set to debate a new law dubbed as the Pakistani version of the USA Patriot Act. The Pakistani government says the law will improve its anti-terrorism efforts, but human rights advocates have criticized the ordinance for being not well defined and it prone to abuses.

"This law is war, declared war, against those who challenge the state," said Khawaja Zaheer to the media.  Zaheer is the senior justice adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Activists counter that new law will give even more special powers to special forces.  "People are already being detained, people are already being kept in internment camps, people are already involuntarily disappeared," I.A. Rehman told media, the secretary general of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission.

For years, Pakistan has been under pressure form Western powers to quell the domestic terrorism problems.  Some suggest the new law creates the framework that could strengthen a potential military offensive against the Taliban should talks fail.

The ordinance formally defines an enemy combatant, clarifies the powers of the army to intervene in internal security, establishes new federal courts, offers additional protections to judges, and codifies the use of extended detention.  The new ordinance — handed down in mid-October and effective immediately pending a review by Parliament — may first be put to the test in the economic hub of Karachi, where an offensive against criminal gangs and militant groups has netted about 5,000 arrests in the past three months.





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