ISLAMABAD: CPDI demands provincial government of Balochistan to replace ineffective Freedom of Information Ordinance 2005 with a robust Right to information law. This is crucial in light of Article 19-A of Constitution of Pakistan where right to information is recognized as a fundamental human right. Public bodies of Balochistan are reluctant to share information andcitizens of Balochistan are deprived of their fundamental human right to know.
Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 is an ineffective law as it allows citizens and journalists to access limited public information from selective departments. Although, earlier this year, provincial cabinet formed a committee to review the proposed amendments in the existing Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005, yet no practical steps have been taken. Khalid Hussain, Provincial Coordinator of CPDI, remarked that Government of Balochistan needs to make amendments in the existing act to ensure that citizens’ right to access information of public bodies is protected and served. He added, scope of law is restricted, information requesting procedure is
difficult and costly; and list of exempted information is also broad. Most importantly, there is no independent appellate forum like Information Commissions in KP, Sindh, Punjab and Federal.
CPDI prepared a model Right to Information (RTI) bill and shared with the legislators and Chief Minister Balochistan, but no action is taken since there is no political will to promote openness and transparency through RTI in the province.
CPDI has contributed to an extent towards this cause by writing advocacy letters to the superior authorities of Balochistan Government, and it will continue to do so until a progressive and well- defined law is formulated and implemented.
About CPDI: Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) is an independent, non-partisan and a not-for-profit registered civil society organization working on the issues of Development and Peace in Pakistan.
Published in The Balochistan Point on November 20, 2019