Pakistani Activists Urge Promise-Keeping on RTI

24 March 2011

 The Pakistan government should fulfill its promise to enact a new right to information law, activists said during a demonstration in Islamabad.

A March 17 walk to the parliament building was organized by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives.

 They asked why top officials have not fulfilled pledges to replace the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002. Introduction of a bill was promised by mid-February. (See previous report.)

CPDI Executive Director, Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, said that under Article 19-A of the constitution, access to information was a fundamental right and the government was constitutionally bound to enact a right to information law.

 Rawalpindi District Bar Council Jawad Khalid said that corruption in the country could only be rooted out through an effective right to information law, according to an account in The Daily Times.

 At a separate event, author Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh March 2 spoke on “Corruption, Transparency & Citizen’s Right to Information” under the auspices of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) at its office at the Karachi Press Club (KPC).

He said that that “former federal information minister Kaira had assured that by mid-February a law would be enacted in this regard but this has not been done as yet. As a result, he said, we were still following the 2002 law that was very cumbersome,” according to a report in The News.   “We have to bring transparency,” he said “and it can only been ensured through the Right to Information.”

Responding to a question by The News, he said it was true that “corruption has become socially acceptable in Pakistan. But if we follow the ‘Right to Information’ we will get information about every project.” In the 2002 law, he said, there were 33 exemptions; therefore, one couldn’t get proper information.

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