Govt slated for delaying enactment right to information law

ISLAMABAD: Since January 16, 2016 when federal government announced formation of special committee to review right to information bill approved by Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting on July 15, 2014, there is no word about deliberations or recommendations of this committee.

PML-N government has been delaying the enactment of right to information law on one pretext or the other, says a press release on Tuesday. This time around, PML-N government has raised the bogey of security as a delaying tactics. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) believes the bill approved by the Senate committee contains sufficient safeguards to protect any type of sensitive information from disclosure.

In fact, this bill has been praised by local and international right to information experts as one of the best laws in the world. The delay in the enactment of right to information law for federal public bodies has raised serious questions about federal government commitment to transparency. This is especially ironic given the fact that PML-N committed in Charter of Democracy signed on May 14, 2006 that it will enact right to information law and repeal Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002.

It is unfortunate that PML-N government is almost half way through its tenure and has failed to table right to information bill unanimously approved by Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting. The CPDI urges federal government to table right to information bill without further delay.

Right to information is constitutional right of Pakistanis and it is included in the chapter of fundamental rights in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is duty of federal government to put in place an easy and cost effective mechanism so that citizens can, exercising their right to information, know how their federal government is putting to use national resources by getting certified information from public bodies. Tall transparency claims are not good enough and federal government should demonstrate its commitment to transparency by enacting right to information law.