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KARACHI: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI), in collaboration with Sindh Information Commission (SIC), held a provincial conference on challenges and way forward of the Right to Information (RTI) at a local hotel in Karachi, the other day.

Speakers at a conference demanded the implementation of right to information (RTI) in the true spirit and discussed the achievements made and challenges confronted by the provincial information commissions.

Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh, Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi stressed on the importance of reviving print media as it is one of the most credible sources of information. He laid emphasis on imparting information about RTI and information commissions to the students in colleges and universities. He committed to discuss the linguistic issues in the Sindh RTI legislation with the law department and to arrange a meeting of the RTI advocates with the chief minister Sindh so that betterments can be made in RTI law for the people. He said it is the will of govt of Sindh to strengthen the Sindh information commission and to ensure that people get access to public information.

Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director, CPDI, while addressing the conference, noted that the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has been dysfunctional for the last two months, despite that civil society and former Chief Information Commissioner; PIC wrote letters to the Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to initiate the process for the appointment of federal information commissioner.

Ali added that the government criticized the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf for not disclosing the information about Tosha Khana; however, despite the court order, the PML-N led government itself was not willing to the public this information.

Mehboob Qadir Shah, Chief Information Commissioner Punjab Information Commission, addressing the conference, said the Commission has passed more than 10 thousand orders since its establishment and took measures to ensure the implementation of these orders. He maintained that government departments create hurdles in providing information to the citizen, but the Commission is doing its best to ensure the implementation of the right to information act.

While addressing the conference, Mrs. Farah Hamid Khan, Chief Information Commissioner of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission (KPIC), said political will is mandatory for the implementation of the RTI law 2013, when the government was interested in the implementation of this law, the KPIC was considered as an ideal organization. She added more than 1700 complaints are pending in KPIC due to vacant posts of the information commissioner. More than 44 thousand people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have practiced RTI law, 13 thousand of which have received information directly from the government department. In contrast, more than 10 thousand citizens have filed complaints to KPIC. The Commission on these complaints has passed more than 8 thousand orders/directions and ensured the provision of the information to the citizen, Mrs. Farah maintained.

Nusrat Hussain, Chief Information Commissioner Sindh Information Commission (SIC), explaining the performance of the SIC, said that despite limited resources, the Commission’s website has been launched, and all necessary information will be made available on it. He informed that the Commission has, so far, received 150 complaints, of which 25 are resolved while the rest are under process at different stages.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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