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Caught joking about Zardari? Face 14-year jail term

Source: ANI
July 22, 2009 12:31 IST
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"Terrorists have kidnapped our beloved Zardari and are demanding 5,000,000 dollars or they will burn him with petrol. Please donate what you can. I have donated five litres."

Robber: "Give me all your money!" 
Zardari: "Don't you know who I am? I am Asif Ali Zardari." 
Robber: "OK. Give me all my money"

People in Pakistan must refrain from sharing such 'slander' political jokes, as the government has banned jokes making fun of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The government has implemented a new Cyber Crimes Act under which anybody sending jokes about Zardari by mobile sms, email or blog could be arrested and given a 14-year prison sentence.

The Federal Investigation Agency has been directed to trace the origin of the jokes and take stiff action against those who are trying to malign the image of country's leadership, The Telegraph reports.

The move to impose ban on jokes ridiculing Zardari has been criticised by the opposition as well as human rights agencies.

However, Interior Advisor Rehman Malik said it would help curb the 'ill motives' against the 'civilian leadership'.

'The move would punish the authors of ill motivated and concocted stories through emails and text messages against the civilian leadership,' Malik said.

The ban has led the critics compare the present 'democratic' regime in the country with General Pervez Musharraf's eight year long autocratic rule.

Critics are of the view that the ruling Pakistan People's Party, is a 'party that espouses a liberal agenda, of stooping as low as the former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, who took television broadcasters off air when he faced political opposition'.

This is not the first instance when Zardari is under attack. He was nicknamed 'Mr 10 percent' during Benazir Bhutto's regimes for allegedly demanding a share in government contracts.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has distanced himself from the controversy and said that the ban would not be implemented.

It may be noted that the government had tried to curb mobile jokes last month also by imposing tax on them, but later it was withdrawn hurting the government further as jokes such as: 'The government has imposed a tax on all messages. This means that until now President Zardari was getting abused for free. Now he'll get paid every time someone abuses him!' started doing rounds .

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Source: ANI