LAHORE: Members of the civil society on Friday demanded that the Punjab government implement Right to Information Law in Punjab immediately
They made this demand at a rally and press conference at the Lahore Press Club
The conference was organised by the Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI) a platform of 20 civil society organisations working on promoting and protecting the citizens’ right to information through enactment of an effective right to information law. The rally was organised by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), which was attended by journalists and political parties’ representatives.
Speakers at the conference were of the view that despite being the biggest province of the country Punjab had not legislated to provide its residents easy access to information held by the provincial departments.
The speakers said despite the fact that on March 17, Shahbaz Sharif had publicly committed that right to information would be the first law that would be enacted if the PML-N won the elections, no legislation had been moved.
They said PTI had promulgated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Ordinance on August 13.
Addressing the conference, Coordinator Coalition on Right to Information Zahid Abdullah said that one of the indicators of good governance was the right to information legislation.
It was regarded as an anti-corruption tool and it was through the right to information legislation that citizens could access verified information held by the public bodies and can ensure transparent functioning of the government departments, he added.
He demanded that the draft of the Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013 should be immediately tabled in the assembly.
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) representative Rahat Babar said that if the Punjab government was interested in good governance, an effective right to information law would have to be enacted.
He went on to say that any law was as good as its implementation mechanism and it was, therefore, important that the Punjab Information Commission should be established on the lines of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission.
He said this information commission should be given budgetary and administrative autonomy.
It should be ensured that there was equal representation of civil society, bureaucracy and judiciary in the composition of this Punjab Information Commission, Babar stressed.