From Our Correspondent:
During the meeting of the National Forum of Information Commissioners (NFIC) meeting convened by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), the Balochistan Information Secretary, Hamza Shafqaat assured that the Balochistan government is committed to notifying Balochistan Information Commission and rules of the RTI act in next 15 days.
The meeting was held in Islamabad with the participation of serving information commissioners from the Federal, KP, Punjab, and Sindh. At the meeting, the commissioners reiterated their commitment to promoting transparency and accountability in Pakistan, with a focus on ensuring public access to information.
Mukhtar Ahmad Ali highlights concrete efforts to promote RTI
Mr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Executive Director of CPDI, provided an overview of the historical and legislative landscape of the right to information and freedom of information in Pakistan. He highlighted that concrete efforts to promote RTI began in 2013 when dominant political parties in KP and Punjab competing in the political arena added to the RTI implementation in their provinces.
Mr. Hamza Shafqaat, Information Secretary, Balochistan Government said that Public Information Officers (PIO) have been appointed/ nominated in all public bodies by the order of the Chief Secretary, and rules have been drafted and vetted by the law department. The Ministerial committee received the draft rules in February, and a select committee has been established to oversee the process.
RTI to ensure transparency: Hamza Shafqaat
He further stated that the Balochistan Commission and the rules of the Balochistan RTI Act 2021 will be notified within the next 15 days, marking a significant step forward in promoting transparency and accountability in the province.
Syed Raza Ali, from Peace and Justice Network, highlighted the significance of strengthening the enforcement mechanism of RTI and other laws in Pakistan. He indicated the importance of RTI under open government partnerships and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said that the oversight mechanism of Information Commissions should be strengthened as well.