Access to information to help ensure rule of law, merit, justice: Pervaiz

RAWALPINDI, Oct 18 (APP): Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid Tuesday said the Standing Committee of the Federal Cabinet for Disposal of Legislative Cases headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid approved the draft of Right to Information bill on September 30.

The draft bill would now be presented in the federal cabinet meeting for its formal approval, he said while addressing a seminar here on “Existing Right to Information Laws and Need for Legislation at the Federal Level”.

The minister said without having right to information law, democracy would be incomplete. Implementation of the RTI law was the right of the people and the government would fulfil its responsibility in that regard.

He said after the cabinet approval, the bill would be tabled in the parliament and it would not take long to become an Act of parliament as it was finalized with consensus.

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People’s access to information would help ensure rule of law, merit and justice in the country, besides improving the performance of institutions, he added.

He said if an elected government concealed its affairs from the general public, it would be against the spirit of democracy. If there is no respect for the right to information, then there is no democracy, he added.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid said it was the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of the Punjab province which adopted the RTI law in 2013 in its previous tenure.

The minister said the credit of the bill’s approval would go to the entire parliament, the Senate Committee on Information, Broadcasting and the people of Pakistan, who had been struggling for democracy, freedom of press and political liberties.

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Due to non-availability of an effective RTI law, he said news based on hearsay were sometimes published and then would have to be clarified. News items about sensitive topics could cause problems and could be misused by elements working against vital national interests and implementation of the RTI law would provide a remedy for such problems, he added.

He said besides Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had also adopted the RTI law and hoped that Sindh and Balochistan would also follow suit to ensure the right of information to the masses.

The minister said the lawyers community had played an important role in restoration and strengthening of democracy. He also lauded the role of the bar in the struggle against dictatorships and restoration of democracy in the country.