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RTI enactment at slack pace in G.B


Right to access to information is one of the fundamental rights of a human living on earth. In the Holy Quran (Allah) says, “Are those who know can be equal to those who do not know?” Only they will be remembered (who are) people of understanding. The Islamic ideologyurgesMuslims to acquire maximum level of knowledge about science of statesmanship and governance. However, some countries allowed their people to access their basic rights regarding public/private sectors information and some restricted.
Right to Information (RTI) or Freedom of Information (FOI) is a term used for access of public body information to its citizen. In 1766, Sweden has become first country, enacted the RTI law. Later on, almost every democratic country like France, USA, Canada and European Union promulgated RTI law, United Nations had passed the law in 1946 even China has also partaken in the momentum to adopt RTI law. India and Pakistan enacted the law in 2005. So far, legislation of RTI has been adopted by 127 countries till to-date. The importance of this law is to boost transparency, accountability, elimination of corruption and for improvement of public service deliveriesand play role as catalyst in governance system.
Why RTI is so important to implement in Pakistan? Because Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan has made a historic statement at very outset that “RTI is future of Pakistan” and his Government policies are strengthening economic growth by Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Investors are interested & feel risk-free when access to information to their citizen has promulgated in the country.
Pakistan’s Constitution 1973, Article 19 has defined freedom of speech to their people and freedom of the Press but it did not explain about access to information. Therefore,thelegislation of Article 19-A was introduced and passed through 18thConstitutionalAmendment in 2010. TheArticle 19-A has contained sufficient points to legislate RTI act. The Article 19-A says “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law”.
Thereafter, Pakistan’s RTI Act describes some keys points like, although every province have passed their own Acts but it has varied in some points, the entire mechanism that how to gain information from public bodies? What are roles of Public Information Officers (PIOs), Information Commissioners as well as about Information Commission? Which type of penalties will be imposed by Commission?And you can find answers of these questions in all provincial RTI Acts.
Pakistan’s province Balochistan became first and founding father of RTI law in the country. They had passed Act under the name of “Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005”. Albeit, the RTI system in Balochistan isn’t fairly operated in its true spirit till today but Alyani’s Government has now taken step towards revamping of FOI Act.
Afterwards, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab passed RTI act in 2013. Howbeit, Punjab RTI result was same as Balochistan initially but later on, it has revamped by Government of the Punjab in 2020. KPK has set an example of effective implementation of RTI law in the province.Sindh and Federal Government joined the RTI race in 2016 & 2017, respectively. Nevertheless, Sindh Governmentwas repealed “The Sindh Freedom of Information Act, 2006″and enacted”The Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2016”.
Gilgit-Baltistan is only the area in Pakistan where RTI law not enacted yet. However, Government of Gilgit-Baltistan is keen to implement this motivational law and we can assess this through recently three days visit of Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab InformationCommission to Gilgit which reflects the enthusiasm of Khursheed’s Government towards legislation of FOI in Gilgit-Baltistan (G.B). But the process of making RTI Act is at snail’s pace. Therefore, in my opinion, Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has to take some immediate steps to establish a committee which could workin fast pace towards legislation of RTI Act.
The step of enactment in Gilgit-Baltistan is to fulfill the promise of RTI promulgation which is written in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) manifesto.Gilgit-Baltistan is being situated on a key entrance of CPEC. Undoubtedly, G.B is future hub of Pakistan. Accordingly, RTI is likely to be anutmost factor for the efficient and effective governance in the coming days.