Balochistan government urged to form information commission
Speakers at a seminar about the information commission in Balochistan: Photo provided by CPDI

News Desk:

QUETTA: Politicians, members of the legal fraternity, civil society, and journalists have demanded of the Balochistan government to form an information commission without any further delay. The demand was raised at a conference organized by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) with the support of the European Union in a local hotel in Quetta.

Balochistan government must appoint the Chief Information Commissioner to empower the citizens to have access to official information under the Right to Information (RTI) act. Accessing government information remains a challenge in Balochistan due to the flawed implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the absence of an independent appellate body. The Balochistan Government was bound to establish an information commission within six (6) months of the enactment of the act, but it is almost 2 years now that the law is implemented without any information commission.

CPDI Chief Mukhtar presented an analysis of the RTI

Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of CPDI Presented the analysis of the Balochistan RTI Act 2021. He discussed the loopholes in the act and presented recommendations to amend the act in light of regional and international best practices and the requirement of Article 19-A of the Constitution. Mukhtar said that Section 7(2) of the Act requires the applicant to attach a copy of CNIC with the application.

Mr. Muhammad Kabir Muhammad Shahi, a Former Senator talked about the importance of the eighteenth amendment and the legislation as per the needs and cultural norms of the community. He also criticized the clauses pertaining to absolute exemptions in the RTI Act.
Member of Provincial Assembly Mr. Nassrullah Zery questioned the inability of the government to implement the act. No Public Information Officers (PIOs) have been designated in departments across Balochistan as of yet says Nasrullah Zery.

Jalila Haider calls for access to accurate information

Social Activist and Advocate Ms. Jalila Haider stressed the need for access to speedy and accurate information during the relief and rehabilitation in post-disasters and floods. There is no information about the flood-affected people, the magnitude of the disaster, the need for relief goods, etc. available on any relevant website of the government of Balochistan said Jalila.

MPA Ms. Shakeela Naveed criticized the negligence of the government in drafting and finalizing rules of business, allocation of budget, and formation of the commission. She further stressed that the culture of secrecy is embedded in our system so badly that even member provincial assemblies face difficulty in getting certified information.
Mr. Adil Jahangir, Executive Director of Aid Balochistan stressed the need for the formation and finalization of Rules of Business. He said that Aid Balochistan has drafted and shared rules with the government but the response of the government is still awaited.

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Quetta Voice is an English Daily covering all unfolding political, economic and social issues relating to Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province in terms of area. QV's main focus is on stories related to education, promotion of quality education and publishing reports about out of school children in the province. QV has also a vigilant eye on health, climate change and other key sectors.