Information Ordinance to ensure access public records
KARACHI- Federal Information Minister Javed Jabbar has reiterated that the government believes in freedom of the press as well as freedom of information to ensure people have improved access to public records and for the purpose to make Federal Government more accountable to its citizens.
Freedom of the press was a matter concerning every citizen and not a monopoly of any organization. The Government is currently eliciting public opinion on the draft Freedom of Information Ordinance, 2000 through public debate, and hopes to Teach “broad agreement by next month after considering suggestions and see how these can be incorporated in the Ordinance”. “Consultations will also be held with the office-bearers of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) on October 3, 2000 for this purpose. Later provincial governments will also pass laws similar to the said Ordinance,” the minister said during a Round Table discussion participated by editors, columnists, writers and intellectuals at a local hotel. Federal Information Secretary Salim Gul Shaikh was also present.
He assured that declassified documents can be provided to any citizen after 20 years. However, it was for the government to decide which documents will be de-classified, he maintained. He assured that the government will under the Ordinance provide access to public record to citizens unless classified as “secret.” Under national security considerations, the government has right to partly or wholly withhold any classified document, he contended.
Javed Jabbar spoke of various steps taken by the present government in the last nearly one year for ensuring press freedom in the country including lifting newsprint quota, doing away with Audit Bureau of Circulation and clearing government advertising dues of newspapers.
He also referred to the policy of the government towards giving more freedom to the state controlled Radio and TV. In this regard he said, there has been free debate over the Radio and TV networks on government policies by next year private Radio and TV channels will start functioning in Pakistan, he added.
Source: Business Recorder