Draft ordinance on information freedom needs drastic changes -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Draft ordinance on information freedom needs drastic changes

KARACHI- Former federal information minister and Chairman of an NGO, The Reformers, Nisar Memon said that the draft ordinance on Freedom of Information Ordinance 2000 in its present form was far short of expectations and needed drastic changes to make it workable.

Speaking at a seminar, organised by the students and faculty members of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi (KU), Memon said there could be no meaningful freedom unless the government recognised peoples right to know.

He said the ordinance must ensure transparency and accountability and must ensure recognition of ‘right to know, instead of ‘need to know’, as the government, of course, was incapable to determine the peoples ‘need to know’. There should also be unambiguous criteria of categorising any peace of information as classified, he added saying how could Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report be regarded as classified when it had already been published twice.

Memon urged the government to present a comprehensive and well thought out draft to show that the government really intended to allow access to the sources of information. He said the time limit fixed by the government to receive comments and proposals from the public on the draft was also very short and it must be extended.

In her introductory address Professor Shahida Kazi, chairperson of Karachi University (KU) Department of Mass Communication, explained the significance of freedom of information. She said the people must be educated on the genuine issues and the authorities must take them into confidence before any decision.

The President, Karachi Union of Journalists, Sarfaraz Ahmed said there were many intricacies involved in the issue of freedom. The draft may sound as a step in right direction but a cursory look at it shows that it did not reflect sincerity, he added.

Source: The News
Date:9/21/2000