Caretaker Information Minister, Mosarrat Qadeem pledges to draft effective right to information law for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Peshawar, April 30, 2013: there are plethora of records related to a common man that are held by public bodies. There have never been public services messages about the fee and procedures making people aware how common people can have access to their own records. Neither public bodies display such information at prominent places at their premises. As a result, a common man runs from pillar to post, offers bribes for the copies of his own records like Fard, Fard, Fard beah, Khasra paimaish, Jamabundi, General and special power of attorney, Final court order/judgment and decree, Records of plaint, petitions and written statements of civil, criminal, family and rent cases, any interim order of the court, record of order sheet of any case which he should be able to get by paying a fee of two rupees per page. This lack of information about fee and procedures to get copies of these records results in corruption and hardships for a common man. These views were expressed by speakers in a seminar on ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Bodies and Proactive Disclosure of Information’ held by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) in a local hotel in Peshawar. Ms. Mosarrat Qadeem, Caretaker Minister for Information, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the participants that KPK caretaker government was working to improve the existing draft Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Access to Information Act 2013. She pledged that the draft information law for the province will be a highly effectively law according to our own traditions. Mr. Furrukh Seir, Caretaker Minister for Health KPK was of the view that information was two way process and those seeking information should be prepared as how to use the information. Mr., Zaheer Khattack, Executive Director, Urban Rural Development Organization, (URDO) was of the view that information desks are not functional at government departments due to which citizens have to face lot of difficulties. Mr. Idrees Kamal, eminent rights activists shared with the participants that people generally do not use the existing procedures and instead get things done by offering brines. Ms. Azra Nafees Yousafzai, Executive Director, Centre for Governance and Public Accountability, (CGPA) shared with the participants the experience of submitting information requests with the public bodies to seek budget docments. She said that public bodies were not willing to share even budget documents and declared these documents as secret documents. Mr. Zahid Abdullah, Program Manager CPDI shared with the participants that the district Copying Manual contains list of public records and citizens can get copies of these records by depositing prescribed fee to the concerned department. However, majority of citizens do not know about the fee and procedures to get copies of public records held by courts, revenue department and other district public bodies. He also stressed the need for proactive disclosure of information by public departments through their web sites. He was of the view that online sharing of information will go a long way in improving service delivery. The participants of the seminar demanded the provincial government to take launch awareness campaign about the procedure and fee for getting copies of public records from revenue, courts and union councils. They also demanded that all district should be duty-bound to prominently display information about procedures and fee at their web sites and at prominent places on their premises.

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