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Shahbaz promises right to information law as first priority

ISLAMABAD: Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has promised that the first legislation to be passed by the next Punjab Assembly will be the Right to Information law if the PML-N came into power, rekindling a hope for the media and civil society organizations struggling for this legislation.

 

“Mark my words. This will be the first law approved from the Punjab Assembly if we form the next government,” Shahbaz Sharif said with reference to the RTI law in a telephonic conversation with The News on Saturday.

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All agree on freedom of information need

ISLAMABAD: Government departments need to be obligated through right to information laws to proactively disclose information pertaining to issues of public importance as well as provide such information when it is demanded by citizens.

 

“Insertion of Article 19-A into the Constitution through 18th Amendment declaring right to information a fundamental right is a welcome step, but federal and provincial governments have not enacted information laws,” were the views expressed by speakers at a conference on ‘Politics of Right to Information Legislation’, held by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in connection with 10th right to Information Day in a local hotel in Islamabad.

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Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting urged to engage journalists and citizens’ groups in the process of finalizing right to information law

Islamabad, July 20, 2012: After protracted and deafening silence on the issue of enacting law to protect citizens’ right to information, government has finally taken a step forward and Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting has formed sub-committee with the mandate to work with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in order to finalize legislation on freedom of information.

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CPDI to give evidence of secret fund in SC

ISLAMABAD: A private organisation called the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) would approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday, claiming that it has documentary evidence about the secret funds of the Information Ministry used under a different head, called the “Special Publicity Fund”.

 

Zahid Abdullah, a top executive of the CPDI, told ‘The News’ on Monday that he had a letter in which the Ministry of Information had admitted in 2008 that the Special Publicity Fund was also a secret fund. He recalled that in 2008 the SPF had over Rs200 million.

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SC refuses blind person to become party in media case

The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) deplores the fact that the Supreme Court Registrar Office disallowed Zahid Abdullah from representing himself in person before the Supreme Court in the Hamid Mir case on the basis of his blindness.

The statement says it was a clear violation of Article 13 of the United Nation’s Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPWD), which Pakistan ratified in July 2011. This article requires states to provide reasonable accommodations to the disabled so that they could have access to justice and participate in the legal proceedings at all stages.

Zahid Abdullah presented himself before the Registrar’s Office on Tuesday with an application to be added as a party in the case — petition No 105/2012, Hamid Mir and Absar Alam Vs Federation of Pakistan and others. Despite repeated requests by Abdullah that he had the right to represent himself in person before the court, the official at the Registrar’s Office remained adamant that Abdullah could only represent himself before the Supreme Court through ‘next friend’ or through ‘Advocate-on-Record’.

When the official was asked to cite the Supreme Court rules under which he was disallowing the applicant to represent himself in person, the official said he was being ‘prudent’ as the rules did not say anything on this issue. The CPDI urges the chief justice to take notice of this incident and issue guidelines in this regard so that persons with disabilities could exercise their right of access to justice on an equal basis with others. Abdullah has the right of appeal against this decision which he intends to exercise on Thursday (October 11).

Zahid Abdullah is a programme manager at CPDI and has done wonderful work for citizens’ basic right of ‘access to information’. He has a long history of fighting against the government departments in different courts for the right of access to information and has no parallel in the country of 180 million despite being disabled.

Gilani flew almost to the moon as PM

Given the flight distance he undertook, Gilani could have made one trip to the moon or 11 trips around the globe. Each of his foreign visit cost the national exchequer at least 10 million rupees. Nobody knows what foreign policy objectives have been achieved as the country continues to remain in global isolation and several heads of states cancelled their visit to Pakistan at the eleventh hour.

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CPDI Study exposes the inefficiency of Assembly secretariat and provincial departments for addressing the Questions of MPAs

Islamabad, September 28, 2012: Government departments need to be obligated through right to information laws to proactively disclose information pertaining to issues of public importance as well as provide such information when it is demanded by citizens. Insertion of Article 19-A into the Constitution through 18th Amendment declaring right to information a fundamental right is a welcome step but federal and provincial governments have not enacted information laws. These views were expressed by speakers in conference on ‘Politics of Right to Information Legislation’, held by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in connection with 10th right to Information Day, in a local hotel in Islamabad. Raja Muhammad Shafqat Khan Abbassi, Chairman, Press council of Pakistan delivered the keynote speech wherein he stressed the need of continuous political commitment for effective legislation at all three tiers of government. Speaking on the occasion, CPDI representative Zahid Abdullah said that it is mind-boggling as to why none of the major political parties, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP) and Motahida Qomi Movement (MQM) which have been in power for more than four years have not taken any meaningful steps to legislate on right to information. Sharing with media CPDI ‘Model right to Information Law’, Mr. Abdullah said that the model law could serve as a basic document for legislation on right to information as existing bills in Parliament like one introduced by Ms. Sherry Rahman private member bill does not meet standards of a an effective information law. Conference participants unanimously adopted resolution demanding the repeal of existing ineffective laws like Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and its replicas in Sindh and Balochistan and urged the provincial and federal governments to enact new information laws after consulting civil society groups. Politicians at the conference, including Senator Haji Adeel (ANP), Siddique-ul-Faooq (PML-N), Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bezinjo (NP), and Naheed Begum (MQM) all agreed that culture of secrecy must be dismantled and that conference resolution would be shared with their respective parties so that firm advances could be made towards the actualization of Right to Information in the true spirit.

Conference speakers demand enactment of right to information laws

Islamabad, September 28, 2012: Government departments need to be obligated through right to information laws to proactively disclose information pertaining to issues of public importance as well as provide such information when it is demanded by citizens. Insertion of Article 19-A into the Constitution through 18th Amendment declaring right to information a fundamental right is a welcome step but federal and provincial governments have not enacted information laws. These views were expressed by speakers in conference on ‘Politics of Right to Information Legislation’, held by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) in connection with 10th right to Information Day, in a local hotel in Islamabad. Raja Muhammad Shafqat Khan Abbassi, Chairman, Press council of Pakistan delivered the keynote speech wherein he stressed the need of continuous political commitment for effective legislation at all three tiers of government. Speaking on the occasion, CPDI representative Zahid Abdullah said that it is mind-boggling as to why none of the major political parties, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Awami National Party (ANP) and Motahida Qomi Movement (MQM) which have been in power for more than four years have not taken any meaningful steps to legislate on right to information. Sharing with media CPDI ‘Model right to Information Law’, Mr. Abdullah said that the model law could serve as a basic document for legislation on right to information as existing bills in Parliament like one introduced by Ms. Sherry Rahman private member bill does not meet standards of a an effective information law. Conference participants unanimously adopted resolution demanding the repeal of existing ineffective laws like Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and its replicas in Sindh and Balochistan and urged the provincial and federal governments to enact new information laws after consulting civil society groups. Politicians at the conference, including Senator Haji Adeel (ANP), Siddique-ul-Faooq (PML-N), Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bezinjo (NP), and Naheed Begum (MQM) all agreed that culture of secrecy must be dismantled and that conference resolution would be shared with their respective parties so that firm advances could be made towards the actualization of Right to Information in the true spirit.