14 Years of Choking Public Rights

How many more years will Balochistan take to move towards progressive Right to Information (RTI) law which is both citizen friendly and helpful to journalists? While all other provinces and the federal government has adopted to the progressive, robust and citizen friendly Second Generation Right to Information Laws, Balochistan is still holding on to the “Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005” for past 14 years.

Even though the Balochistan cabinet session, held in March 2019, had unanimously agreed upon to constitute a committee presided by Provincial Information Minister to review the proposed amendments in RTI act but no definite action in this prospect has been taken till date. Moreover every official from Balochistan Government, when questioned on reason for delay in the amendment in RTI law, very conveniently presents “political turmoil” as an excuse for the delay. Hence with this arises series of questions including that for how long will this political turmoil last? Why is amendment in RTI Law the only agenda being affected due to this political turmoil?

RTI is an instrument of change for bringing transparency and accountability in the governmental sphere if given proper mechanism and autonomous nature, but the Balochistan FOI Act 2005 is a big hurdle in itself towards this process. What adds to the problem is that almost no official data is available about government of Balochistan on any of the official websites despite the fact that almost every department has its own website which is a resource to the official information to that department.

With a large number of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects being carried out in the province of Balochistan, such ineffective RTI law is only blocking access to information on related projects and their aftermath.

It is high-time that the Government of Balochistan follow the suit of federal government and other provinces and expedite the legislation of an effective RTI law.

Blog Post by: Fiza Mazhar | Senior Program Officer – CPDI

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