Federal govt urged to pass right to information law

RAWALPINDI , Oct 18 (APP):- Rawalpindi Bar Association (RBA) and Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) on Tuesday organized a seminar on existing right to information laws and need for legislation at the federal level.

Legislation of right to information (RTI) laws at the federal level should be made within the shortest possible time, speakers at the seminar said.

The seminar was attended by a large number of lawyers and civil society. The panelists were Federal Minister for Information Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Senator Farhat Ullah Babar, former Minister for Interior Senator Rehman Malik, PTI’s Member National Assembly Ali Muhammad Khan, Chairman Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan, Punjab Information Commissioner Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, KP Information Commissioner Kaleem Ullah Khan, President Rawalpindi Bar Association Shoukat Rauf Siddiqui and Executive Director SSDO Syed Kausar Abbas.

Addressing the seminar, Shoukat Rauf Siddiqui said right to
information was a fundamental right of every citizen and provincial and federal governments were responsible to undertake legislation for access to information. The draft Right to Information Bill, which was passed by the Standing Committee of the Senate nearly two years, should be tabled
in the National Assembly as it would help improve transparency and accountability in the country, he added.

Senator Farhat Ullah Babar said the Senate had played a vital role for legislation of right to information at the federal level.

Access to information was right of every citizen, which could not be denied by any public office, he added.

Senator Rehman Malik said good governance and improved service delivery could only be provided if democracy and citizens’ participation were encouraged and strengthened in the decision making process.

He underlined the need of promulgating the right to information laws at the federal level within the shortest possible time.

He said the Pakistan Peoples’ Party led government had made a number of amendments and new laws for citizens’ participation in the decision making and strengthened democracy including the 18th Constitutional Amendment which also gave right to information to the people as their fundamental right.

Syed Kausar Abbas said the right to information was a power of a citizen that could lead towards transparency and accountability in public institutions.

He said SSDO had launched a campaign with the help of bar associations to promulgate RTI laws at the federal level and create awareness about the same.

Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan said the government should have a proactive approach about the right to information law, ensuring citizens’ fundamental rights.

Ali Muhammad Khan said Khyber Pakhtunkhawa was the first province which had legislated the RTI law and called upon the federal government to pass the law at the federal level.

The seminar was also addressed by Mukhtar Ahmed Ali and Kaleem Ullah Khan, who briefed the participants about the laws of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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