Pakistani Minister Says New Group to Review RTI Bill

17 January 2016

The government of Pakistan has constituted a special five-person committee to evaluate the long-pending right to information bill, according to an article in Daily Pakistan.

The News reported that the group wlll “finalize draft law in a meeting on January 21 and it will then be laid before the house as a government bill.”

The article says the announcement came from Nasir Jamal, Director General, Internal Publicity Wing, Federal Ministry of Information Broadcasting and National Heritage, during a seminar on RTI.

The group is expected to consider“whether issues such as National Security, Foreign Relations and Law Enforcement are sufficiently protected under the draft law, given the changing security situation,” according to the Daily Pakistan  account by Khawaja Daud.

A draft RTI bill was approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Information in April 2014 but since then has been awaiting Cabinet approval.

Jamal said members will be senior parliamentarians Pervaiz Rashid, Ahsan Iqbal, Anusha Rahaman Khan, Irfan Siddiqui and Marriyum Aurangzeb.

He was quoted by The news as saying: “I am sending the draft to all the members of the committee so that they could study it before the meeting to be held on coming Thursday so hopefully the committee will clear it in single sitting,” Both accounts quoted Jamal as saying the committee would invite feedback and input from stakeholders.

The News said “opposition lawmakers are skeptical of the government’s commitment.”

“I am skeptical because 17 times the government had promised to bring the draft to the cabinet meeting but they failed each time in fulfilling their promise,” said Farhatullah Babar who was head of the Senate sub-committee which finalized the draft of the RTI law.

At the same meeting, Zeenat Jahan, Director Information, Sindh’s Information and Archives Department, described Right to Information Bill 2015 for Sindh, saying it has been vetted by the Law Department and is ready to be tabled in the Sindh assembly.

The National Seminar on Right to Information Legislation and its Implementation was organized by PILDAT, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency.

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