CPDI Launches Right to Information Assessment Report in Seminar

Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), in collaboration with Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) organized a one-day seminar on “Right to Information, Challenges, and the Way Forward”. The objective of the seminar is to share the findings of the RTI assessment report and generate informed debate among stakeholders about the challenges and hurdles posed in the implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan. 

CPDI Launches Right to Information Assessment Report in Seminar
CPDI Launches Right to Information Assessment Report in Seminar

Press Release
CPDI Launches Right to Information Assessment Report in Seminar
June 22, 20022: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), in collaboration with Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) organized a one-day seminar on “Right to Information, Challenges, and the Way Forward”. The objective of the seminar is to share the findings of the RTI assessment report and generate informed debate among stakeholders about the challenges and hurdles posed in the implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan. 


The panelists of the conference included; Mr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Executive Director, CPDI, Mr. Muhammad Azam, Chief Information Commissioner, Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), Mr. Fawad Malik, Information Commissioner, Pakistan Information Commission, Mr. Mahboob Qadir Shah, Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab Information Commission, Mr. Nusrat Hussain, Chief Information Commissioner, Sindh Information Commission, Mr. Imran Khan, Secretary Information Department Balochistan. The event was attended by Public Information Officers (PIOs) of the Federal Ministries, journalists, CSOs’ personnel and lawyers’ fraternity. 


Mr. Aftab Alam, Consultant, CPDI shared the findings of study titled “Assessment of Right to Information Implementation (Bureaucratic Hurdles)”. The study aims to assess the quality of implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, including major impediments such as administrative loopholes inherited in the system, lack of required resources and ability to digitize the internal reporting and evaluation systems that make PIOs answerable to the head of departments and other bureaucratic hurdles. The study highlights that Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) is facing serious challenges to implement the Act. These challenges include administrative, procedural and legal challenges since its establishment in November 2018. Moreover, Federal ministries remained sluggish in compliance of statutory obligations under the Act. Most of the public bodies failed to proactively disclose information on their websites as required by section 05 of the RAI Act. Government authorities also showed reluctance in implementation of orders of the PIC. 
Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, ED CPDI, the importance of information and said that essence of RTI revolves around online/offline proactive disclosure of information by government departments. He appreciated that RTI laws have been enacted in provinces and federal level whereas implementation remains a question especially in Sindh and Balochistan. He welcomed the newly appointed information Commissioners in Sindh Information Commission (SIC). He encouraged citizens to use their fundamental right to know to promote transparency, accountability and inclusiveness of citizens. Mehboob Qadir Shah, Chief of Punjab Information Commission remarked that transparency and meritocracy are the fundamental attributes of developed nations. While highlighting the flaws in system, he said that lack of political commitment is main hurdle in implementation of RTI in Punjab. 


Nusrat Hussain, Chief Information Commissioner (SIC) appreciated his predecessors and said that despite of lack of administrative support and resources, 150 complaints were resolved out of the total 165 complaints by Sindh Information Commissioner. He remarked that, provincial government of Sindh is committed to support SIC for effective implementation of RTI. He added, in the last week, they have received 30 information requests from citizens. Newly Appointed Chief of SIC is determined to improve website of SIC to ensure proactive disclosure of information whereas lack of resources and staff are the main challenges for SIC. 


Muhammad Azam, Chief of Pakistan Information Commission remarked that citizens are the custodian of information held by government departments. He commented about the bureaucratic behaviors of government departments and PIOs regarding maximum disclosure of information and public record. He encouraged citizens and PIOs to understand their roles and responsibilities under RTI Law. He suggested that a joint massive awareness campaign shall be run by commissions, media and civil society to ensure maximum disclosure of information.


Imran Khan, Secretary Information, Government of Balochistan said Rules under Balochistan RTI Act, 2021 are laid before the Chief Minister Balochistan and will be finalized soon. Establishment of Balochistan Information Commission is delayed since the enactment of Balochistan RTI Act in February 2021, he added. He claims that culture of secrecy, lack of political will, lack of awareness in citizens and bureaucratic hurdles are the challenges in the path of RTI implementation in Balochistan. 


During the question answer session, the participants were enlightened in detail regarding implementation of RTI laws in Pakistan. At the end, all the participants pledged to continue their joint efforts for the promotion of transparent and accountable RTI regime in Pakistan with maximum public access to information. 

Contact:
Syed Raza Ali 
Project Coordinator – CPDI 
Cell: 0333-8827341
raza@cpdi-pakistan.org