There are two sets of right to information laws in Pakistan. Sindh Freedom of Information Act 2006, Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 and Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 are inadequate as these laws do not meet international standards of effective right to information legislation. ‘Information’ is not defined, the list of exempted information is vague, there is no harm test, and the process of access to information held by public bodies is neither cost-effective nor easy. More importantly, instead of establishing independent and autonomous commissions, the role of appellate body has been entrusted to Ombudsman. That is why empirical data collected over the years by using these 1st generation laws also supports assertion of the right to information activists in the country that these are highly ineffective laws and need to be repealed if the constitutional right of citizens guaranteed through Article 19-A is to be promoted and protected.
On the other hand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 meet standards of right to information legislation. ‘Information’ is clearly defined, list of exempted information is clear and precise, process of submitting information requests is both easy and cost-effective and independent and autonomous commissions have been established with powers to get these laws implemented. As a result, civil society groups, citizens and journalists are using 2nd generation right to information laws in greater frequency than 1st generation right to information laws.
Sindh cabinet has approved the draft of the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Bill 2016 and it is under the consideration of a select committee for further improvement. Similarly, Balochistan government has also drafted a law to repeal Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005. It is in this context that Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) is holding conference on ‘“Provincial Right to Information Laws: Issues and Challenges” on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at PC Hotel, Karachi.
|8||Contact Person with Cell #||Ambreen Kanwal 051-2375158-9|